Nepal’s minister for land management, co-operatives and poverty alleviation has urged the country’s co-ops to invest in setting up industries to boost the economy.
Padma Kumari Aryal was speaking at an event to celebrate the eighth anniversary of Nepal’s Co-operative Journalists Society – where she presented The Kathmandu Post journalist Rajesh Khanal with the Sahakari Patrakarita Puraskar award for his reporting on the country’s co-operative sector.
The minister said that co-ops should start at least one industry in each province. “Each co-operative should invest in industries to promote entrepreneurship. To make the country prosperous, co-operatives should invest in a way that boosts production,” she said.
She also called for co-ops to use uncultivated land to increase agricultural output and reduce the ballooning trade deficit.
The statement from the minister came in the wake of growing lobbying from some co-operatives to increase the lending rate cap that has been imposed on co-ops. A government ruling from the Department of Co-operatives has capped the rate of interest they can charge on loans to members at 16 percent.
In response to the minister’s comments, Keshab Prasad Badal, chairman of the National Co-operative Federation, said that there are policy hurdles for establishing co-operative industries. “There is a need to amend nearly a dozen laws to pave the way for co-operatives to set up industries,” he said. “The government should take this into consideration as it is planning to amend the existing Co-operatives Act.”