This was disclosed by Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen at a meeting with many provincial cooperative ministers.
He stressed that no secret agenda in the proposed National Policy by his Ministry of Industry and Commerce, which is mandated to formulate it.
There are almost 14500 cooperatives-in various productions services, SMEs, women’s development, rural banking, insurance and farming sectors-activ in Sri Lanka.
Through “Coop City” shops, cooperatives are also now present in the country’s FMCG retail sector.
“We do not have any plans to centralise administration of cooperatives or to take over (by the central government). The aim of the national policy is not that” stressed Minister Bathiudeen and added: “We are trying to strengthen powers of cooperatives provincial ministers in this initiative, which is the real action attempted. This work was initiated 10 years before and was not launched by me. However, the cooperative officials, due to their continued interest, managed to produce this after all these years. Once this policy is completed with the agreement of all Provincial Councils, we can finalise and implement it. We thank ILO for ongoing support for this initiative.”
This national effort is supported by the Colombo office of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). All Provincial Cooperative Ministers at the session agreed that a national cooperatives policy is needed for Sri Lanka and such draft policy completed as of 20 March is now ready to be sent to each Provincial Council for them to review on their own. On 20 March, the Provincial Ministers at BMICH also agreed to re-gather on May 29 for finalisation of the reviewed drafts coming back from the Provincial Councils. Joining the session were Secretary of Ministry of Industry and Commerce Chinthana Lokuhetti and Officer in Charge ILO Colombo Indra Thudawage.
Chief Minister of Sabaragamuwa Province Maheepala Herath, addressing the conference said that he is pleased of the progress so far. “This proposed National Policy a victory for Sri Lankan cooperatives movement” said Chief Minister Herath.