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MSCS amendment bill likely to come up in Monsoon session

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NEW DELHI, July 1 (PTI): Cooperation minister Amit Shah on Saturday said a bill that seeks to amend the law on Multi-State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) to bring ease of doing business will come in the Monsoon session of Parliament, starting July 20.

Speaking at the 17th Indian Cooperative Congress here on the occasion of International Day of Cooperatives, Shah said 26 states and Union territories have adopted the draft model by-laws for Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), which means there will be uniform by-laws in a major part of the country from September.

He also said the government wants to frame a new cooperative law that will help in expanding the sector in the next 25 years. It is also planning to set up a cooperative university for which inter-ministerial discussions have been initiated.

After the formation of a separate cooperation ministry on July 6, 2021, the minister said, many changes have become possible in the field of cooperatives, and changes will continue to happen in the future.

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First of all, within the constitutional framework, the government has tried to bring uniformity in the Cooperative Law without disturbing the rights of states and the Centre, he said.

“With the initiative of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji, the work of amendment in the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act has been done by the Parliamentary Committee with consensus. This law is going to come up within this session itself,” Shah said.

The 2022 amendment bill seeks to amend the Act to align with certain provisions of the Constitution and address concerns with the functioning and governance of cooperative societies.

The Bill was referred to a Joint Committee on December 20, 2022, and the committee submitted its report on March 15, 2023, agreeing with most of the provisions of the bill.

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That apart, the minister said PACS have different by-laws in the country. To bring uniformity, the Cooperation ministry came out with model by-laws.

“I am happy to share that 26 states/UTs have adopted the model by-laws on PACS. About 85 per cent of PACS will follow single by-laws from September onwards,” he said.

Stating that the scope of work of PACS has been widened now, the minister said they can work in different areas like dairy and fishery and this will enable them to expand easily.

Many areas of work have been linked with PACS. For example, common seva kendra will not only make PACS viable but become the soul of rural India. PACs at the village level are being involved in the formation of grain storage projects, he said.

The government is also creating a database of cooperatives in the country and 90 per cent of this work has been completed now. With the click of a button, a registrar or officer in the ministry will be able to know about the details of the cooperatives, he said.

The database will not only help in identifying the location of each cooperative but also help in designing a strategy for expansion work, he said.

“Currently, there are 55,000 PACS in the country. Our target is to set up 3 lakh PACS in the next three years. There will be one PACS in each panchayat. Then only the foundation of cooperative will strengthen,” Shah noted.

Listing out other initiatives, the minister said cooperatives are allowed to become LPG and fertiliser distributors, petrol pumps and Janaushadhi Kendra operators. They are also on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM).

When it comes to taxes, he said cooperatives were not treated at par with private companies. However, the Modi government has removed the differences and brought them on par with the cooperates.

About Rs 15,000 crore tax dispute of sugar cooperatives mills has also been resolved. The government has also ensured under the law, such disputes do not arise in future, he said.

Stating that the cooperative sector has contributed a lot to the country, Shah said it accounts for about 29 per cent of the economy of credit distribution, 35 per cent in fertiliser distribution, 25 per cent in fertiliser production, more than 35 per cent in sugar production and share of cooperatives in procurement, sale and production of milk is touching 15 per cent.

“We will increase the contribution of cooperatives to the country’s GDP. We need to accept transparency and transformation and move ahead,” he added.

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