Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the computerization of primary agricultural credit societies (PACS) with the aim of increasing efficiency, transparency and accountability in their operations; enabling PACS to diversify their business and offer multiple services/activities. Over five years, this project proposes to computerize about 63,000 functional PACS with a total budget of Rs. 2516 crore, with the government contributing Rs. 1528 crore.
The Primary Agricultural Cooperative credit societies (PACS) constitute the lowest tier of the three-tier Short-term cooperative credit (STCC) in the country comprising of approx.13 Cr. farmers as its members, which is crucial for the development of the rural economy. PACS account for 41 % (3.01 Cr. farmers) of the KCC loans given by all entities in the Country and 95 % 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).
However, majority of PACS have so far been not computerized and still functioning manually resulting in inefficiency and trust deficit. In some of the states, stand-alone and partial computerization of PACS has been done. There is no uniformity in the software being used by them and they are not interconnected with the DCCBs and StCBs. Under the able guidance of Shri Amit Shah, Hon’ble Minister of Home and Cooperation, it has been proposed 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.
Computerization of PACS, besides serving the purpose of financial inclusion and strengthening service delivery to farmers especially Small & Marginal Farmers (SMFs) will also become nodal service delivery point for various services and provision of inputs like fertilizers, seeds etc. The project will help in improving the outreach of the PACS as outlets for banking activities as well as non-Banking activities apart from improving digitalisation in rural areas. The DCCBs can then enrol themselves as one of the important options for taking up various government schemes (where credit and subsidy is involved) which can be implemented through PACS. It 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 project comprises of 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. This software will be in vernacular language having flexibility of customisation as per the needs of the States. Project Management Units (PMUs) will be set up at Central and State levels. District Level Support will also be provided at cluster 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/adopt the common software, their hardware meets the required specifications, and the software was commissioned after 1st February 2017