Co-ops must focus on production, job creation

Kathmandu, September 16

Stakeholders have said that cooperatives in the country, which are mostly based on deposit and credit, should focus on the production sector and employment generation in a bid to promote the cooperative sector as a major force for achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Addressing a programme on ‘Role of Cooperatives in SDGs’, which was organised by the Society of Economic Journalists-Nepal (SEJON) in the Capital today, stakeholders highlighted the need to connect the cooperative sector with the process of economic growth and the entire development process.

“Against the backdrop of low financial access in the country, the cooperative sector has a crucial role to expand financial services across the local level and assist the country’s development goals by strengthening health, education and production sectors,” said Dharma Swarnakar, programme analyst at the United Nations Development Programme.

Citing that the cooperative sector is directly related to numerous targets of SDGs including women empowerment, ending hunger and employment generation, among others, Swarnakar said that the government should come up with effective ways to mobilise the cooperative sector to achieve SDG targets.

Meanwhile, Gopi Nath Mainali, secretary at the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation (MoLMCPA), said that there is still a lack of proper harmony between the government and private sector in Nepal which has been hindering

economic growth and development process. “Cooperatives are different in nature to banks and other financial institutions. As they are directly linked to the public at the grassroots level, cooperatives should primarily follow the partnership approach,” he said.

Similarly, Mainali also stressed that the cooperative sector should try to reduce the gap between producers and consumers and establish a proper linkage between them to enhance people’s livelihood, generate economic opportunities and reduce poverty.

As per government statistics, there are almost 34,000 cooperatives across the country with more than six million members. “Cooperatives have reached where banks and financial institutions have not reached. This widespread network of cooperatives should be used to promote the country’s economy from the grassroots level and achieve different SDG targets by 2030,” added Mainali.

Likewise, Raghu Ram Bista, joint secretary at MoLMCPA, said that the cooperative sector should be more proactive in improving the lives of people and promoting country’s economy. As per him, though the cooperative sector in Nepal has invested billions, it has been generating employment opportunities for only around 60,000 people.