Separate Ministry for co-ops sought

Kathmandu, January 12:

Saying that the cooperative sector is in a precarious situation, experts today called for a separate ministry for cooperatives for their effective monitoring and operation.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) alone cannot focus on the development of cooperatives. We need a separate ministry for that to give pace to the development of the cooperative sector,” said Keshav Badaal, advisor at National Cooperatives’ Association Limited (NCAL).

Constituent Assembly chairman Subhas Chandra Nembang echoed his concern. “Cooperatives should remain united and move ahead with clear agenda. Their agenda should be forwarded to the CA, where it can get noticed,” he said. He also assured of his support to the cooperatives regarding their agenda.

According to Badaal, as incentives for people working in cooperatives in different districts are low in comparison to those for employees at the Ministry of Finance, most people are not interested in getting transferred to the districts. This has resulted in 15 vacancies at the level of district cooperatives officer.

The 16th annual general meeting (AGM) of NCAL urged the government for its support in the promotion and preservation of cooperatives for sustainability. “Cooperatives are in a difficult situation. Special investigation, observation and study of different cooperatives at government level is lacking. We do not have sufficient investment,” said Sita Ram Timalsina, registrar at the Cooperative Department. During the AGM, AEPC and NACL signed a memorandum of understanding for energy renewal.

Deputy member-secretary at the National Cooperative Development Board (NCDB) Bishwa Mohan Acharya said that cooperatives need to build a positive image. He added that special attention should be towards single member-owned cooperatives and that the cooperative sector should have active public participation for its sustainability and development.

Deputy executive director at the Alternate Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) Mangal Das Maharjan said cooperatives are the media for the successful operation and completion of any project. He added that they provide focus to the project.

NACL said cooperatives are not covered by Nepal Rastra Bank and thus are vulnerable on many counts. They need an effective monitoring mechanism. NACL has central cooperative associations in four sectors: savings and credit, dairy, consumer and agriculture. There is also one national cooperative bank, 73 district level associations, seven primary organisations and 11 supporting members directly involved while people in more than 12,000 organisations are involved in the cooperative revolution.