Stakeholders urge swift passage of Cooperative Bill

  • They have urged lawmakers not to remove stern provisions in the bill against those involved in misappropriation of funds
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 2, 2017-

Expressing discontent over slow progress in getting approved the new Cooperative Bill that is currently under discussion at the Legislature Parliament, stakeholders have urged swift passage of the bill. 

They have also urged lawmakers not to remove stern provisions proposed in the bill against those involved in misappropriation of general public’s money.

The Cooperative Bill, which was tabled at the Parliament some three and a half months ago, includes stringent laws such as barring a person from taking membership of more than one cooperative of similar nature, and prohibiting a board director from becoming a staff member of another cooperative.

Similarly, more than one member of the same family cannot become a candidate or be elected as board director of a cooperative. The bill has also envisioned granting authority to the Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty (MoCPA) to declare any cooperative “troubled” after its monitoring and inspection.

If cooperatives work against the interest of members, do not have the capacity to pay their liabilities, fail to return deposits, and are heading towards insolvency, the government at the recommendation of the registrar of the Department of Cooperative can declare such cooperatives “crisis-ridden”, according to the bill.

The bill has also provisioned a maximum 10-year imprisonment for financial crimes.

Cooperative Minister Hridaya Ram Thani assured the provisions in the new Cooperative Bill would not be removed or changed. “The government wants to maintain stringent provisions in the new Act to safeguard people’s money,” said Thani at a programme organised at the 24th annual general meeting of National Cooperative Federation of Nepal here on Sunday.

According to the Department of Cooperatives, there are 32,274 cooperatives operating in the country. 

They have more than Rs231 billion in deposits, while their loan disbursements stand at Rs217 billion.

There have been several instances of cooperative promoters embezzling billions of rupees, leaving small depositors in the lurch. According to High Level Commission to Probe Irregularities in Cooperatives, depositors have so far lost more than Rs11 billion—half of the amount embezzled by Oriental Cooperative alone.

Lawmaker Rajendra Pandey accused big political parties of creating hurdles to approve the new bill. “The new bill will be endorsed without any tweaks only if the lawmakers of these political parties come to a consensus on safeguarding the people’s money,” he said.

Mohan Krishna Sapkota, secretary of MoCPA, said there was a need for instilling good governance in the cooperatives sector. 

“Qualitative growth can be achieved only if cooperatives abide by regulatory discipline and code of conduct,” he said.

Saroj Kumar Sharma, co-chairman of National Cooperative Development Board, stressed on the need for capacity building of cooperative members and district-based cooperative associations for effective output.

Published: 02-01-2017 09:58

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