The ruling Congress and its co-partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra may pursue the option of fighting the next elections separately, but when it comes to the politically influential cooperative sector, they sing a common tune.
The state cabinet has given an in principle approval to amend the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960 to be applicable to 247,000 cooperative bodies with an annual turnover of Rs 6 lakh crore and total member strength of 550,000. These amendments were necessitated due to 97th constitutional amendment passed by the parliament. As reported by Business Standard, the state government will issue an ordinance after seeking the Governor's signature next week so that the new act becomes effective from February 16.
Congress and NCP ministers, in a bid to consolidate their control, strongly opposed a provision in the new act with regard to deposit of funds by cooperative societies in nationalised banks, scheduled banks and urban cooperative banks and not merely in the district central cooperative banks (DCCBs) and Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB). Instead, these ministers insisted that investment of funds by cooperative bodies be allowed in nationalised banks, scheduled banks and urban cooperative banks only if they have "A" audit class for last three years.
|NEW REGIME FOR COOP SECTOR
|Election of coop bodies to be held by separate authority
|Mandatory for the annual general meeting to appoint an auditor
|Audit of coop bodies to be carried by CA, certified auditors and government auditors
|Training of members, officers and employees must through state apex training institute
|Coop bodies to annually prepare list of active and non-active members, active members eligible for voting, voting rights to defaulters
|Inquiry report by the Registrar to be completed within six months and in any case not later than 9 months
"As per the 97th constitutional amendment the investment of funds was allowed in other banks under article 43 B to provide autonomy and under article 243 ZI to facilitate professional management. However, there was a consensus that cooperative bodies if thrown open for fierce competition they may land into serious problems in future and therefore those bodies having A audit class for last three years will be able to park their funds in nationalised, scheduled and urban cooperative banks," a senior NCP minister told Business Standard.
Further, the Congress and NCP united to oppose insertion of section 18 in the amended act, whereby an expert management panel can be set up in case non-government-aided cooperative body becomes sick. " In case of non-government-aided cooperative bodies, who have not taken any loan or government guarantee or government's share capital if they become sick after irregularities, the government will have no direct control under the new act. Therefore, the cooperation department suggested that an interim board be constituted consisting of experts for the preparation of a scheme for rehabilitation or revival. However, it has been decided to take a final view in this regard after seeking opinion of the law and judiciary department," said minister for cooperation Harshvardhan Patil.
Patil said in a move to provide relief to the elected cooperative bodies, who will need time to complete their five year term, the government has decided to complete its tenure and only after that its election will be conducted through the proposed State Cooperative Election Authority. "Those bodies whose five-year term will not be complete before February 15, 2013, their board of directors will continue to function till the term is over. However, elections will be held for those cooperative bodies eligible for elections before March 31 and also by June 31 their elections will take place before December 31,2013," the minister informed.
Patil said it would be mandatory for cooperative bodies to convene annual general meeting within six months before Setpember 30 and no extension would be granted for the same. Besides, the strength of the board of directors will be fixed at 21 of which five will be reserved for women (2), one for scheduled caste or scheduled tribe, one for other backward class and one for vimukta jati and notified tribe.
Moreover, Patil said the cooperative housing societies will be able to initiate process of recovery of dues from the defaulting members under section 101 instead of present system of initiating through the cooperative department. The minister informed that the cooperative housing societies can resort to taking coercive measure which includes seizure or disposal of a flat if the respective member continues to default.