KATHMANDU: Experts and economists have urged the government to drag large cooperatives in the net of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB). They demanded to upgrade them to finance companies so that NRB can regulate them.

Around 16,000 cooperatives are registered. But authorities do not have exact data on how many of them are operating. According to the Department of Cooperatives (DoC), there are 5,136 cooperatives in Kathmandu Valley with 2,013 in Kathmandu district alone.

Economists think cooperatives are more vulnerable than banks and finance companies as the latter fnction under strict supervision of financial authorities.

Nepali cooperatives have deposit Rs 63 billion of basically poor people. Nearly, a half a dozen cooperatives have transaction over Rs 1 billion annually.

DoC is monitoring the finances of cooperatives but it lacks the knowhow to scrutinize their financial status. Cooperatives are reluctant to submit annual reports to district offices. As per the Division Cooperative Office (DCO) Kathmandu, half of the listed cooperatives are submitting reports on time. “We are tightening financial regulations of the cooperatives to make them more responsible,” said office staffer Maheshwor Sharma Poudel.

Poudel said the growth of cooperatives has been strong and fast but in no way can they be compared to banks, because cooperatives look not just into investor benefits but social causes as well and generate a strong economic quotient towards the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

K B Uprety of Rastriya Sahakari Bank Ltd said that a cooperative looks into hundred per cent customer benefit unlike banks which only give a certain amount of interest from profits. “Cooperatives are big contributors to the economic growth of the country, and with a bit of extra supervision they will grow while helping the country and people to develop financially,” he said.

Meanwhile, there has been a spurt in the number of illegal cooperatives.

“We need self-sufficient and regularized working

systems. The process of mobilizing deposits by customers themselves is yet to come about, and until that happens the concept of cooperatives won’t be feasible,” said Rewat Bahadur Karki, former regulator of Nepal Rastra Bank.