₹2,000-3000Cr budget, Centre to Modernize and Digitalize 97,000 PACs in the country
With a budget of around ₹2,000-3000 crore over the next five years, the Central Cooperation Ministry is working on a new central scheme to modernize and digitalize over 97,000 primary agriculture cooperative societies (PACs) spread across the country.
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Primary agriculture cooperative societies (PACs), also known as agri-cooperative credit societies, are village-level lending institutions that operate on cooperative principles. They make short and medium-term loans to rural residents to help them meet their financial obligations.
There are approximately 97,961 PACs in the country, with approximately 65,000 of them being viable.
‘We are working on a central scheme to computerize PACs. The goal is to ensure that panchayat-level PACs are connected to headquarters,’ According to a senior Cooperation Ministry official.
Banking procedures will become more efficient and auditable after PACs are digitalized. Furthermore, it will ensure that the benefit of farm loans reaches the last mile, as agri-credit is still distributed through PACs in a few states, he said.
The official described it as a ‘futuristic scheme,’ adding that computerization will allow PACs to create new vocations such as godown setup.
Because PACs fall under the purview of the state government, the scheme envisaged will be 60:40 for five years, he said, adding that the total budget is expected to be ₹2,000-3,000 crore.
Back in 2017, the government proposed computerizing PACs with a budget of ₹1950 crore. However, it was unable to obtain cabinet clearance.
Previously, when the Cooperation Department was part of the Union Agriculture Ministry, just one scheme, the Integrated Scheme of Agriculture Cooperation (ISAC), which provides subsidies to PACs for capital infrastructure upgrades, was in place.
In July of this year, a new Ministry of Cooperation was established to strengthen the cooperative movement. It is developing a new cooperative policy as well as some central schemes.
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According to the official, the Department of Personnel and Training (DOP) has already created and approved 168 positions for the new ministry.