President includes Cooperatives in National Economic Council

The century old Sri Lankan cooperative sector received the biggest boost in its history whenthe President invited it to sit in the future sessions of the National Economic Council (NEC) on 7 July. Many new relief measures for cooperatives were also announced–chief among them was exempting cooperatives from income tax payments - so that the sector would be revived to play a key role in Sri Lanka’s economic reforms.

“I too began my working life as an employee of a cooperative. Cooperatives are a peoples’ movement-it’s a common platform to put forward their issues-to collaboratively voice them. National Cooperative Commission (NCC) under Minister Rishad Bathiudeen should take the lead in this” said President Maithripala Sirisena in Batticaloa addressing Sri Lanka’s celebration festivities of the 96th International Cooperative Day in Batticaloa, organised by the Minister of Industry and Commerce.

“ I call NCC and Minister Bathiudeen to launch even more activities in future to develop this sector. I call the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and NCC to sit with me in NEC in future to develop this sector further. Today’s event lays a stronger foundation for the future of our coops.”

“I am pleased to announce that with immediate effect all cooperative societies of Sri Lanka are exempted from income tax. This will result in good savings for them” said Minister Bathiudeen.

“All cooperative employees across the country will be given an additional monthly allowance of Rs 1000 from next month. All the cooperative employees will be entitled to a pension from now on. Cooperatives struggling with bank loans will be given a reimbursement and our Cabinet Paper to this effect has been approved. As a result we have already paid Rs 100 million of bank loans owed by coops, through treasury funds. Another Rs 390 million cooperative loans will be reimbursed by us in the future with the support of Treasury.”

“Provision of heavy vehicles to cooperatives at low rates will also be done now since the President has given his approval. All these new decisions have been arrived at to make this important movement a key driver in the economic growth and reform vision of the Unity government.”

“The theme for 2018 International Day of Cooperatives (IDC) is “Sustainable consumption and production”; creating an opportunity for cooperatives to show how they run successful businesses while respecting our natural environment and the resources it offers” said IFFCO’s Director Singh, and added: “The global cooperative sector is already working to achieve SDGs and this year’ theme is a result of this.” Sri Lanka’s cooperative sector completes 114th anniversary this year. With the commencement of a rural credit society in Menikhinna village, Kandy (Central Province), Sri Lanka’s cooperatives movement began in 1904 and today 40% of Lankan population (850,000) are members of a cooperative society. There are 14500 such societies today across the country-sporting a huge assets and savings base close to US $3 billion.