New Delhi: Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah Friday said there was a need to establish more than 2 lakh new Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) across the country to achieve the target of providing agri-finance worth Rs 10 lakh crore through cooperatives.
Addressing a national conference on rural cooperative banks organised by the Ministry of Cooperation and the National Federation of State Cooperative Banks (NAFSCOB), Shah said there were more than 95,000 PACS currently of which only about 63,000 PACS were functional.
He said that PACS were the soul of the agriculture credit system and it was necessary to strengthen the existing PACS and also expand them.
Shah said there were 3 lakh panchayats in India while the numbers of PACS were only about 95,000.
He said there was a need to set up more than 2 lakh new PACS.
Shah asked senior officials of the State Cooperative Banks (SCBs) and District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) to set a five-year goal in this regard.
He pointed out that agriculture finance through cooperatives had been declining and the 63,000 functional PACS were doing agriculture finance of Rs 2 lakh crore.
Shah said that if the number of PACS reaches 3 lakh, then the distribution of Rs 10 lakh crore in agriculture finance could be possible through cooperatives.
The minister highlighted that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved computerisation of PACS to improve their efficiency and to bring transparency and accountability to their operations.
He said that this project proposes computerisation of about 63,000 functional PACS over 5 years with a total budget outlay of Rs 2516 crore with the Centre’s share of Rs 1528 crore.
“Computerisation is a medicine for 100 diseases,” Shah said, adding that this would help in upgradation of their human resources and accounting system.
The minister also asked PACS to increase their outreach and bring more farmers into their fold.
Shah said that the ministry had floated a draft ‘Model By-laws of PACS’ on which it had invited suggestions from state governments and other stakeholders.
He said suggestions had come and the government would soon finalise the model by-laws, which propose to allow PACS to undertake various activities like dealership of petroleum products and running PDS shops.
The minister stressed making PACS viable and said the by-laws propose to allow them to undertake 22 new activities.
PACS constitute the lowest tier of the three-tier short-term cooperative credit (STCC) in the country comprising about 13 crore farmers as its members, which is crucial for the development of the rural economy.
Besides model by-laws for PACs, Shah said the government was working on a new cooperation policy, setting up a university as well as an export house, and developing a database of cooperatives.
He also presented performance awards to select SCBS, DCCBs, and PACS and felicitated a few short-term cooperative credit institutions for 100 years of service.
At the event, Union Minister of State for Cooperation B L Verma, Cooperation Secretary Gyanesh Kumar, NAFSCOB Chairman Konduru Ravinder Rao, NAFSCOB’s MD Bhima Subrahmanyam, NCUI President Dileep Sanghani, Kribhco Chairman Chandra Pal Singh Yadav, and NAFED Chairman Bijender Singh were present.