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Aiming to enable co-operators meet their common economic and social needs and aspirations through jointly-owned enterprises, prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday stressed the need for formation of multipurpose cooperative societies to rid the country of poverty completely.

With a strong faith in the cooperative movement that has immense potential to deliver goods and services in areas where the administration and private sector scarcely reach, the government advocates for forming multipurpose cooperative societies to protect the weaker sections of society.

“No poverty will remain in Bangladesh if we can form multipurpose cooperative societies. Poverty will be stamped out completely. We have to do it,” she said.

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She was virtually inaugurating the 49th National Cooperative Day-2020 and awarding the recipients of the National Cooperative Award-2019 from her official Gonobhaban residence in the capital.

The prime minister urged the people involved in the cooperative movement to play a major role to help the government making Bangladesh a developed country free from hunger and poverty.

She expressed satisfaction over increasing numbers of cooperative societies and their members, but advocated for more participation of women in the cooperative movement.

“The number of cooperative societies and its members now stands at 190,534 and 1,14,84,747 respectively. Many women got involved in it, but I want more participation of women as they represent half of the country’s population. If the participation of women is increased corruption will be decreased and the activities of the cooperative societies will get further pace and thus their families will be beneficiaries,” she said.

Referring to the Father of the Nation’s policy of making development through cooperative societies, the prime minister called upon all the people involved in cooperative societies to work with utmost sincerity and responsibility as the associations become permanently profitable and production-oriented.

She continued, “The most important thing for a cooperative society is to work in unison and for the welfare of everyone.”

Mentioning that marketing of the produced goods of the cooperatives societies is a major challenge for their survival, the prime minister said that they have been working on establishing food and agriculture goods processing zones alongside taking other measures, to ensure marketing of their goods.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has been attaching priority to the cooperative societies to ensure a balanced development of the country irrespective of the rich and poor as well as its huge potential of generating employment.

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“The development should be done from the grassroots and we are doing that,” she said, adding that cooperative societies could play a pivotal role to this end.

Department of Cooperatives under the LGRD and cooperatives ministry organised the event at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in the capital.

On behalf of the prime minister, LGRD and cooperatives minister Md Tazul Islam and state minister Swapan Bhattacharjee handed over the National Cooperative Award of 2019 to nine cooperative societies and one individual in different categories for their contributions to the sector.

Rural development and cooperatives secretary Md Rezaul Ahsan gave the welcome address.

A video documentary was also screened on the development of Bangladesh and cooperatives at the function.

Earlier, the prime minister unveiled the cover of a publication titled ‘Samobayer Safollyagantha’.