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Dr.W.H.Karunarathne Commissioner of Co-operative Dev. and Reg. of Co-op Societies.   There are some organizations in our industry which has moved to very high success. If we could learn from them, we also can produce successful business results. If we are toge...
Guiding the Management of the Rural Banking Societies   A workshop was conducted on 27th and 28th April 2012 at Rathnapura to reorganize and guide the management of the rural banking societies with the guidance of Mr. W.H. Karunara...
Several Project For the Development of Co-operative in North province( Fisheries)   In order to develop Cooperative Societies in the fisheries industry in North province, several steps have been taken. Under this program, Rupees 4 Million was invested in the ...
Central Co-operative Societies have been able to provide better quality services through their Zonal officers. Central Co-operative Societies have been able to provide better quality services through their Zonal  officers. They also have been able to provide fast solution to their burnin...
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Tuesday, 22 February 2011 10:58

Establishment and the Expansion of the Department

  • By the beginning of the 20th century A.D. Sri Lanka was a crown colony under British government. The then governor of Sri Lanka on the recommendations of the Agricultural Banking Committee appointed to probe in to the issue of use of rural wide tenders in the country, recommended a solution to take steps to establish cooperative credit societies in terms of the cooperative societies Act No. 07 of 1911.
  • On the terms of the cooperative societies ordinance of 1911, initially enforced the Registrar who was entrusted with powers to register corporative societies and attend to functions such as Auditing. However as the government felt that a full time Registrar was not necessary, it was decided to assign the duties and functions entrusted to Registrar under the said Ordinance to a Registrar General. A part of the duties of examining the applications for registration of corporative societies were entrusted to government agents. On 1904 an institution was formed under the governor of Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon Agricultural Society to improve the cultivation sector of the rural community. If was expected that publicity activities to improve the corporative societies will be carried out by this institution.
  • In 1911 Department of Agriculture was established in place of Ceylon Agricultural Societies. The arrangements implemented in 1911 were a short time procedure. Since there were several functions to be covered in addition to the normal duties with regard to the registration of societies, the government took action in 19913 to appoint the Director of Agricultural as the Registrar of Corporative Societies as well in addition to his normal duties. In the same year the government appointed a control board to consider loan applications made by the corporative societies. The said Board of Control was composed of the Director of Agriculture and Registrar of Corporative Societies, Treasurer to Crown – Colonies, Government Agent of the Western Province and the government Agent in charge of the central province.
  • The Director of Agriculture was appointed as the Registrar of Co-operative Societies in 1913, and this situation continued for a period of more than 11 years. During that period increase in the number of officers in the department was slow. In 1921 two inspectors were taken in and the provincial agricultural officers were appointed as Sub-Registrars for their respective areas. An important aspect during this period was the appointment of Mr.W.K.H. Campbell as the Co-Registrar of the Co-operative Societies. This newly created post was a full time one, and under his guidelines the Co-operative business started to get the full concern of a senior officer. In 1926, 06 inspectors were appointed by the Colombo District Co-operative Society. According to Mr. Campbell, this activity is attributed to have been taken to reduce the control of the officers.
  • In 1929, organizing of campaign activities and General inspection were separated from the Audit Division and the team of inspectors was divided into two sections for this. The reason for the division of the Inspectors was that it was not possible to consider auditing in the Co-operative Societies as serious and urgent unless auditing and other activities of the societies were maintained together.
  • The Department of Co-operative was a Co-department of the Agricultural Department till 1930 September 30. The Department of Co-operative was separated from the Agricultural Department on 1930 October 1st and became an independent institution managed by a full time Registrar of Co-operative Societies. Later on it was divided island wide under three Assistant Directors. From this year onwards a Deputy Registrar has been appointed to the headquarters.
  • The next notable development took place in 1937. Establishing of the Northern region Co-operative main union and opening up a Development and Audit fund for the other regions were two special happenings of the year. After the opening of the Northern region Co-operative main union, recovering the inspection fees from the northern Co-operative Societies was assigned to this union. The Registrar was responsible for recovering the inspection fees from the other regions. Afterwards in 1937 Sub-Inspector post scheme was started. The Northern region Co-operative main union appointed these officers on a new grade to the Northern region and paid their salaries out of the inspection fees charged by the union. The Sub-Inspectors to the other region were appointed by the Registrar and their salary was paid from the Development and Audit fund. At this juncture, it was noted that the appointing of Sub-Inspectors who are not paid by the Government was an initial step in spreading the member of Officers of the project. With the starting of this new grade the dividing of the Departmental Inspectors into two sections as Audit Inspectors and Administration Inspectors came to a close. In the early stage it was decided to keep the activities of these officers of both the sections separately but according to the revised program Audit and Administration activities were kept separate while implementing the audit activities of two areas were assigned to a single inspector. Incidentally an area was assigned to every Inspector. He was responsible for its administration. But he had to audit the adjoining Inspector’s societies every year. The expectation of implementing this new scheme was to prevent audit activities of the area being done by the same person for two years.
  • The next notable period in the history of the Department of Co-operative was during the Second World War. During this period the Co-operative shop, society and the organization underwent a transformation hitherto not seen and the department too could see a similar prosperity during the period 1942 – 1945. The number of Sub-Inspectors rose from 55 to 709, while the number of Inspectors rose from 33 to 93. In 1945 another development era started. During this year the Department of Co-operative Development was established separately under a Commissioner. The planning activities, development activities and other special activities were under this Commissioner. The Co-operative Wholesale Institution which was started in 1943 January also came under the Commissioner. By 1945 the Co-operative wholesale Institution had a large number of staff officers, while their salary was paid through the normal defense budget. As such it was legally not a part of the Co-operative Department Board. After 4 years in 1949 CWE became a public corporation. At this instance the Department of Co-operative Development and the Co-operative Registrars Department were amalgamated and its chief was known as the Commissioner Co-operative Development and the Registrar of Co-operative Societies . In 1943 the Co-operative Training College was started as a part of the department for training the departmental officers and other Government Officers connected with the Co-operative sector. This College which was started in Kandy was shifted to Polgolla in 1945.


Main events that took place in the 1950s are as follows.

  • In 1950, a separate post as the Assistant Commissioner of Co-operative Development (Industrial and Fisheries) was created at the main office for the development of the Industrial and fisheries societies.
  • In 1956, Sub-Inspectors were recruited to the state services as Inspectors of Grade III
  • Till 1956, a set of staff Inspectors under the Assistant Commissioner in charge if of the district, inspected the works of others in their divisions, but as a result of a request from the Trade Union of the Inspectors this scheme was cancelled.
  • In 1956 a Distribution division was established in the Co-operative College. Training of the departmental officers continued in this college, as a responsibility of the college, and planning of education was also an added responsibility.


In the 1960 a steep rise in the member of staff officers could be seen while the following administration changes were made in the department.

  • In 1962, the distribution sector started in 1956 was closed and the responsibility of Co-operative distribution was vested with the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the district.
  • A field zone inspection scheme, similar to income control division was started.
  • A separate post of Assistant Commissioner in charge of investigation activities was opened up in the headquarters.
  • With the appointing of an Assistant Commissioner of Co-operative Development (Audit) for NWP, separating of other affairs from the normal inspection activities was started.
  • As a result of a review of the officers, by the committee appointed by the department, an increase in grade one inspectors and special grade inspectors was seen.


The number of officers permitted for the department at the end of the 1960 decade in as follows.


Post Number
Commissioner of Co-operative and Registrar 01
Deputy Commissioners 03
Senior Assistant Commissioner 03
Principal, Co-operative College 01
Assistant Commissioners 41
Accountant 02
Lecturers (Co-operative College) 05
Librarian (Co-operative College) 01
Co-operative Society Inspector (Grade I, Grade II, Grade III) 1,681
Clerks (grade I, Grade II, Normal Grade) 217
Other Officers 234
Total 2,189


  • In the beginning of the 1970s more than 5100 multi purpose Co-operative Societies throughout the island were amalgamated into large primary societies with the mediation of the Government.
  • During this period, the policies practiced by the state such as Restricting the imports, Distributing many items including essential food items under the import substitution policy, Providing financial facilities needed for the improving of rural products, providing of storage facilities and Marketing facilities were further improved and implemented through the Co-operative Societies. As these activities were functioning in a widespread, complex nature the Department of Co-operative Development was a hive of activity. In response to this there was an increase in departmental activities as well a rise in the number of staff members.
  • In the 1980s, under the 13th amendment of the constitution and after 1989, most of the activities of the Co-operative sector were given to the Provincial Councils and in response to that Department of Provincial Co-operative Development was established. As such the responsibility of establishing and administration of the Inter Provincial Co-operative Societies/Unions and in Dominant Co-operative unions at the national level was vested with the Department of National level Development. Apart from taking necessary action to formulate the National policy and constitution framework relevant to the Co-operative activities, Co-coordinating the Co-operative development activities at the National level and representing the Sri Lankan Government in the Co-operative business at national and international forums were rested with the Department of National level Co-operative Development.
  • In the year 2001, the Sri Lanka Co-operative College which until then functioned as a section of the department was taken off the administration of the department through the parliament act no 1 of 2001 and established as a separate institution as the National Co-operative Development Institution.
  • At present, in order to fulfill these activities the department works out on the four main sections namely Administration of the Department, Finance, Planning and Development Auditing, Investigation and Banking while these activities of these sectors are re-organized as a unit under the Co-operative Development District Officers. The Departmental Staff relevant to these activities are as follows.


Post Number
Commissioner of Co-operative Development and Registrar (S.L.A.S.1) 01
Deputy Commissioner (S.L.A.S. II/AND S.L.S II/1 03
Assistant Commissioner of Co-operative Development (S.L.A.S. II/II) 03
Assistant Commissioner of Co-operative Development (Departmental) 02
Administration Officer 01
Co-operative Development District Officer 05
Co-operative Development Officer 25
Co-operative Promotion and Investigation Assistants 51
Public Management Assistant Services (Grade I, Grade II, Grade III) 34
Translator 01
K.K.S (Grade I, Grade II, Grade III) 15
Drivers (Grade I and Grade II) 03
Total 144


  • Although the department functioned under this Ministry connected with the agricultural sector till the year 1959 and from that year onwards has functioned on and off under several ministries relevant to different sectors. At present it functions under the Ministry of Trade, Marketing Development Co-operatives and Consumer Services.


Last Updated on Monday, 18 April 2011 11:34