Manzurul Alam Mukul: The 48th National Cooperatives Day is being observed in the country today (Saturday) under the auspices of the Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Ministry.
The theme of this year is 'Philosophy of Bangabandhu, Development in Cooperatives'.
President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday issued separate messages greeting all co-operators on the eve of the day.
President Abdul Hamid, in his message, said that the cooperatives are playing important roles in women empowerment including rural poverty alleviation, new employment generation, marketing of the commodities and ensuring of fair price of the goods.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had recognised the cooperatives as one of the best weapons for the development, said the President.
He (Bangabandhu) had also dreamt of a pro-people cooperatives movement for improving the fate of the poor and under privileged people, Abdul Hamid added.
Highlighting different aspects of the cooperatives, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the cooperatives are playing important roles in the socio-economic development of the country.
At present, the country has 1,74,604 cooperatives with 1,08,34,750 members, she said, adding that peoples irrespective of different professionals are reaping the benefits from agriculture, fisheries, livestock, savings, distribution of credit, dairy and cottage industries, garments, housing, banks, insurances, commodity marketing and 'Amar Gram-Amar Shohar' under the cooperatives society.
According to sources, when the 48th National Cooperatives Day is being observed across the country, the condition of the most of cooperative societies in our country is in very bad shape. It can be here mentioned the constitution of Bangladesh attributes that the cooperatives will play a vital role in the economy, but the cooperatives have become a less important issue now due to proper steps and irregularities in the sector.
With the hope of being benefited from the principals of cooperative, the Department of Cooperatives (DoC) was established as an attached department under the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development & Cooperatives.
But, it is unfortunate the department has failed to play its responsible role in generating employment opportunities and alleviating poverty in the country, experts said.
The Department of Cooperatives (DoC) and cooperative societies under the regularity body are now involved in irregularities. Especially, most of the cooperative societies established under the government patronisation are now inactive although they have huge properties.
There is an allegation that a section of people are misappropriating the properties, and the common cooperators are not being benefited from the societies. But if we had made the sector effectively functional and free from corruption it would have reduced dependency on foreign aid and contributed to a sustainable economy, creating huge employment opportunities and alleviating poverty in the country, they said.
Atikur Rahman, convener of Naya Samobay Andolon and cooperative researcher, said that the government now should form a separate cooperative commission in a bid to give a boost to the country's cooperative sector.
Most of the cooperative societies established under the government patronisation are now inactive and the common cooperators are not being benefited although the societies or organizations have huge properties, he said.
He also opined that the government should take pragmatic steps to form a separate cooperative commission with a view to re-launching inactive cooperatives societies and reducing corruptions and mismanagements of organizations.
Some experts in the sector say the cooperatives worldwide now face a new challenge due to aggressive role of corporate globalization. In this circumstance, there is no alternative to being united and joining the New Movement for Cooperative in a bid to build a poverty-free, discrimination- free and harmonious world through cooperative.
An expert said cooperative organisations should be brought under five-tier cooperative structure in a bid to face corporate globalization and increase cooperation among the socities in different countries. He also underscored the need for taking initiatives in a bid to increase public-cooperative partnership in different development activities and enacting laws to boost the country's cooperative sector.