Over 35,000 cooperative unions under their umbrella body of the Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA) have called upon the government to through Parliament come up with a law that establishes one body that will license, regulate, and oversee SACCOS.
Under the current framework, SACCOs undergo different bodies for operations, and these include; the Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority (UNRA), Bank of Uganda (BoU), and Registrar of Cooperatives at the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives (MoTIC).
While establishing a SACCO, its members must register it with the Registrar of Cooperatives at MoTIC, it is then lincesed by UMRA, then when the funds are above Shs1.5bn saving, it’s BoU that regulates.
“You find that the SACCO has to fulfill all the requirements of all the three bodies and this is hectic,” said Ferdinand Tumuhaise the Lawyer from Kampala Associate Advocates,
Tumuhaise noted that the current three different laws are hectic and difficult to be fulfilled by the SACCOs.
“If the SACCO has less than Shs500m, it’s regulated by UMRA under the Microfinance and Money Lenders Act of 2016, and if the SACCO has more than Shs1.5Bn in voluntary savings, the Tier 4 Act now told them to you must go to Bank of Uganda under Microfinance Deposit Taking Institution Act of 2003. So as of now, you have to go through the three laws to finally determine where I belong,” he added
Tumuhaise said Parliament should come up with one law that will harmonize the entire process.
“It’s better that all these laws are amended and one law comes out and it should establish one body which is representative of all the stakeholders, the Cooperatives, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Finance, BOU, UNRA without it, it’s disturbing members to go to report to all of them and members are relaxing, ending up lacking the licenses,”
This was during the Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA)’s Stakeholders’ engagement on Co-operative Policy, Legal framework, and the role of UCA Apex at Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi, Kampala on Tuesday.
The meeting aimed at analysing the current Co-operative Policy & legal framework in Uganda: Gaps and implications, examine an overview performance of different Government programs like the Parish Development Model (PDM), Best approaches to the Cooperative model: programs, policy, and legal frameworks. The role of UCA as a policy advisor to the Government on policy matters relating to the Cooperative movement.
It also aimed at bringing out a policy brief paper on policy and legal framework status for Co-operatives in Uganda, Stakeholder common Understanding and position statement of Cooperatives support and engagement of UCA as an apex, Formation of National Cooperative Stakeholders Platform to champion Cooperative issues in Uganda and Development of a road map for fast Tracking Cooperative progress and performance indicators.
Ivan Asiimwe, the Secretary General of Uganda Cooperative Alliance said that some of its members have been affected by this organization which has made them lose funds.
“The Board of UCA is mandated to discuss and engage the government on matters concerning co-operatives. But this entire confusion comes when the government chooses to leave us out the major stakeholders, our inputs are necessary while drafting these laws and that’s why we are calling for the formulation of this law,” he said
“Co-operatives are not like companies or businesses but this is unique because a group of people comes together to start their saving so if you make a law which is not in line with the values, it greatly affects them, let’s be engaged so that we give in our guidance on the way moving forward,” he added.
Speaking to Journalists at the sidelines of the engagement, Hon. Fredrick Gume Ngobi, the State Minister of Cooperatives said that there is no need to alarm and panic since the ongoing government rationalization will solve part of these challenges.
“All these people are their regulators in law, but practically the one who registers you ideally should be the one de-registering you, we are looking at ways of harmonizing them to save small SACCOs like Parish Development SACCOS.
The minister said that this was not done in bad faith because the government should oversee the operations of the SACCOS of the country.