New Delhi: Terming cooperatives as one of the strongest pillars of Indian agriculture, farm minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said he has asked finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to consider income tax exemption to Indian cooperatives.
“I have written a letter to the finance minister to look into the issue of I-T exemption to cooperative societies,” Pawar said at a national level meeting with the state cooperative ministers here.
With about 6 lakh cooperative societies covering about 250 million members, Pawar said the Indian cooperative sector takes pride in calling itself one of the largest cooperative movement in the world.
National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI), the apex organization of the cooperatives in the country, has been demanding to keep cooperative societies out of the purview of the direct tax code that is to be operationalized in 2012.
NCUI has sought for continuance of the existing income tax exemption under section 80B.
Although about 21 national cooperative federations, 386 state level federations and 3111 district federations are leading the cooperative movement of the country, they by and large suffer from dependency syndrome, Pawar said.
The dependency syndrome of cooperatives has adversely affected their independence and autonomy. Besides, restrictive provisions in cooperative laws has hindered them from mobilizing resources from non-governmental sources, he said.
Stressing the urgent need for reforms in this sector, the minister outlined six focus areas for cooperatives based on the recommendations of the high-powered task force on cooperatives.
Apart from encouraging professionalism in the working of coopertiaves, the minister stressed on setting up of an institutional mechanism for revival of sick cooperatives and create environment to promote micro-finance institution.
To boost credit flow to farmers, the minister said the state governments to revive the cooperative credit structure by amending their cooperative laws and make them member driven and autonomous bodies.
The Centre has announced Rs13,596 crores for revamp of cooperative credit bodies and as of now only 20 states have amended the laws and taken benefit of the revival package.
Active participation of members in the management of cooperatives, ensuring timely conduct of elections, providing fixed term of five years, independent professional audit among others are pre-requisite for making cooperative societies competitive, he added.