By Shezna Shums
Struggling with massive losses, the Internal Trade and Cooperatives Ministry has requested the President to write off Rs. 1.8 billion worth of debt incurred by the cooperatives. This request is still pending, with the Ministry yet to receive a response.
Meanwhile the Ministry is also attempting to upgrade and improve the services of all cooperatives around the island.
All cooperatives, mini cooperatives and government trade outlets run by the Ministry will be given a facelift to suit the country’s developing image, a statement noted.
The Ministry will also develop and improve the rules and regulations that are currently available, in order to make these outlets more efficient.
A notification from the Ministry has been issued regarding these new plans.
In another move to improve Government trade services, strict action will be taken and fines will be imposed in the event corruption is reported with regard the outlets which are run by the Department of Cooperative Development, Minister Johnston Fernando said. To mark the completion of 100 years of Cooperatives Law, the Ministry intends to provide a home to 100 poor families.
The Department of Cooperative Development will also hold a trade exhibition in Kurunegala from 28 June to 2 July to celebrate the anniversary of Cooperatives Law being enforced in the island. President Mahinda Rajapaksa will be the chief guest at the event.
According to the Department of Cooperative Development, it was at the beginning of the 20th century when Sri Lanka was a crown colony under British Government that the then Governor of Sri Lanka on the recommendations of the Agricultural Banking Committee appointed a committee to probe into the use of rural wide tenders in the country.
As a result, the establishment of cooperative credit societies in terms of the Cooperative Societies Act No. 07 of 1911 had been recommended.
Although the department functioned under this Ministry connected with the agricultural sector till 1959, since then it has functioned on and off under several ministries relevant to different sectors.
At present it functions under the Ministry of Trade, Marketing Development Cooperatives and Consumer Services.