The 111 year old Sri Lankan cooperative sector employs 46,000 and packs a membership total of a little over 8 million. The Lankan cooperatives assets and savings base is estimated at huge Rs 418,416 million. At present there are 14,454 cooperatives -in various productions, services, SMEs, women’s development, rural banking, insurance and farming -active across Sri Lanka’s nine provinces.
After a decade, the policy has been finally approved this year by Cooperative Ministers of all Provincial Councils, District Cooperative Councils and regional cooperative officials (representing their 8 million members) unanimously. This go-ahead by the entire Lankan coop sector is the first such unanimous approval given by this sector for the NCP, whose work began way back in 2008 and subsequently undergoing multiple revisions under different governments.
This year, a decade later, subsequent to many rounds of NCP stakeholder consultations in Colombo led by Minister Bathiudeen and his Ministry of Industry and Commerce and that began in 2016, the NCP was finalised with International Labour Organisation (ILO) backing and has been submitted for Cabinet approval by the Ministry on Minister Bathiudeen’s directions.
Among the main themes of the new NCP are modernising the coop sector in par with other cooperative movements in the world, bringing in ICT, introducing self-financing, good governance, financial and credit methods, involving more youth and women in the sector’s next stage and simplifying the legal set-up for the sector to be more viable.
“Given the cooperatives’ importance to Sri Lankan consumer lives it is time we officially step in and support the sector to develop it.” Minister Bathiudeen said.