In a major step to strengthen cooperatives, the government has said existing Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) having wholesale petrol and diesel dealership licence will be given a one-time option to covert their bulk consumer pumps into retail outlets.
The cooperation ministry, in a statement on Wednesday said PACS will also be given priority in allotment of new petrol/diesel dealerships to strengthen the cooperative movement in the country. PACS will also be able to get LPG distributorship and their eligibility has been approved.
These decision were taken in a meeting held by Cooperation Minister Amit Shah with Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri here. "In order to strengthen the PACS, the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has given its consent for conversion of existing wholesale petrol/diesel dealership licensed PACS (PACS) into retail outlets," the cooperation ministry said.
Under this, existing PACS will be given a one-time option to convert their bulk consumer pumps into retail outlets, it said. Among other decisions, sugar cooperative mills will be given priority to sell ethanol under the ethanol blending programme, and even PACS will be allowed to operate retail outlets on their own.
"The petroleum ministry will ensure that cooperative sugar mills tie up with other private companies for ethanol purchase. Priority should be given accordingly," the ministry said.
The petroleum ministry will also change the rules to make PACS eligible for LPG distributorship and PACS will be placed under Combined Category 2 (CC 2) category with freedom fighters and sports quota in allotment of new petrol/diesel dealerships, it added.
Highlighting other steps taken to strengthen PACS, the ministry said a model bylaw has been prepared for PACS, through which about 1 lakh PACS across the country will become the basis of rural economic development and will prove to be helpful in increasing the income of more than 13 crore farmers of the country through more than 25 different activities.
Apart from this, to strengthen the hands of PACS, a centrally sponsored scheme for computerisation of PACS is being implemented. Under this, PACS will be able to connect with NABARD through a common national software. Along with this, the cooperation ministry has also entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, NABARD and CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, under which more than 300 e-services of CSCs will be made available to the general public in rural areas through PACS.
The ministry has also set a target of setting up 2 lakh multipurpose PACS and primary dairy/fisheries cooperative societies in all panchayats/villages in the next five years. Besides this, cooperatives have been included as buyers on GeM portal and various central government schemes are also being decentralised at the level of PACS.
The ministry said these measures will strengthen the PACS as well as pave the way for them to become multipurpose economic units, which will increase the income of crores of farmers of the country.