New Delhi: The central government on Wednesday approved an overall budget outlay of Rs. 2,516 crores to computerise 63,000 functional Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS). The announcement was made by Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur saying that the move will benefit 13 crore farmers belonging to small or marginal groups.
Addressing the media here in New Delhi, the union minister said that the decision was taken during a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Modi.
He said that the objective of this decision was to increase the efficiency of PACS, bringing transparency and accountability in their operations as well as facilitating PACS to diversify their business and undertake multiple activities or services. The computerisation of the PACS will be completed within a course of five years.
The union minister noted that PACS constitute the lowest tier of the three-tier Short-term cooperative credit (STCC) in the country comprising approximately 13 crore farmers as its members, which is crucial for the development of the rural economy. Out of a total of a budget of Rs. 2,516 crores, the government of India will contribute Rs. 1528 crore into the project.
He said that PACS account for 41 percent (3.01 Cr. farmers) of the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) loans given by all entities in the country and 95 percent of these KCC loans (2.95 Cr. farmers) through PACS are to the Small and Marginal farmers.
The other two tiers viz. State Cooperative Banks (StCBs) and District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) have already been automated by the NABARD and brought on Common Banking Software (CBS).
It has been proposed by the government to computerize all the PACS throughout the country and bring them on a common platform at National level and have a Common Accounting System (CAS) for their day-to-day business.
Thakur also stated that the cloud-based setup will also become nodal service delivery point for various services and provision of inputs like fertilizers, seeds etc. He further added that the computerisation of PACS will ensure speedy disposal of loans, lower transition cost, faster audit and reduction in imbalances in payments and accounting with State Cooperative Banks and District Central Cooperative Banks.
The announcement of central government has stated that the said project comprises development of cloud based common software with cyber security and data storage, providing hardware support to the PACS, digitization of existing records including maintenance support and training.
The software will be in vernacular language having flexibility of customisation as per the needs of the States. Along with this, Project Management Units (PMUs) will be set up at Central and State levels and District Level Support will also be provided at clusters of about 200 PACS.
In the case of states where computerization of PACS has been completed, Rs. 50,000/- per PACS will be reimbursed provided they agree to integrate with or adopt the common software, their hardware meets the required specifications, and the software was commissioned after 1st February, 2017.