Victims of cooperatives announce fresh round of protests from Friday, blame govt for not taking their concerns seriously

Published On: May 23, 2024 07:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

In the past one decade, a number of cooperatives embezzled more than Rs 200 billion of depositors’ money

KATHMANDU, May 23: A group of cooperative victims have announced the launch of the second stage of protests from Friday.

Organizing a press meet on Wednesday, the Cooperatives Depositors Protection National Campaign announced to conduct protests from May 24. According to them, they are compelled to begin protests due to the apathy shown by the government authorities to implement the agreements reached last year.

As of now, cooperatives are found to have embezzled more than Rs 200 billion of millions of depositors. Out of the amount, 54 big cooperatives have misappropriated around Rs 160 billion.

Bhim Kumar Shrestha, senior advisor to the campaign, said lack of government initiative has left many households high and dry. “Directors of these cooperatives have fled away mainly due to the negligence of the government authorities,” he said.

The malpractices in cooperatives started to surface more than a decade ago.  The member-based organizations have been found to have landed in trouble mainly due to their ill practices in lending, mainly in the family businesses of the operators and over exposure to the realty sector.

One of the biggest scams was identified in the sector after Oriental Cooperative went bankrupt in 2013. Since then, many cooperatives have fallen into financial troubles one after another almost every year, while the problem has become even more severe in recent days.

Among the cooperatives, Swarnalaxmi Saving and Credit Cooperative, Shiva Shikhar Multipurpose Cooperative, Tulasi Saving and Credit Cooperative and Oriental Cooperative have been each accused of misappropriating over Rs 16 billion of the depositors’ money. In addition, Sumeru Saving and Credit Cooperative, Kantipur Cooperative, Pashupati Cooperative, Ideal Yamuna Hamro Cooperative, Baraha Cooperative, Civil Saving and Credit Cooperative, LaliGurans Multipurpose Cooperative and Gautam Shree Multipurpose Cooperative, among others, are also in the list of problematic cooperatives. Each of these cooperatives has been alleged of embezzling more than Rs 5 billion from their depositors.

The government however has done almost nothing other than forming investigation panels and declaring the cooperatives as problematic. As of now, the government has declared 20 cooperatives as problematic.   

Six years ago, the government formed the Problematic Cooperatives Management Committee and assigned the responsibility to the committee to manage the assets and liabilities of the problematic cooperatives. But so far, the committee has not been able to settle the arrears of even a single cooperative.

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