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Cooperative Movement Presents Basket of Demands to Parliament

Presenting the petition on behalf of the group, Jane Amuge Okello, the Business Development Advisor at Uhuru Institute for Social Development, said the State minister for cooperatives and a department of cooperatives under the trade ministry are not good enough. She said the department of cooperatives is poorly staffed and grossly underfunded, which has led to inefficiency.
Jane Amuge Okello the Business Development Advisor at Uhuru Institute for Social Development presents the petition by Cooperatives to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.

Audio 5

More than 500 cooperatives across the country are pushing for the establishment of a fully-fledged cooperatives ministry with functional structures from the sub county to the national level. The group handed over its petition to the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga this afternoon at parliament.

 

The petition was endorsed by 1000 members of various cooperatives countrywide. Some of the cooperatives behind the petition include Uganda Coffee Federation, Uganda Central Cooperative Financial Savings (UCCFS), Banyankole Kweterana, Uganda Cooperatives Savings and Credit Union, Okoro Coffee, Bugisu Cooperative Union and Uganda Cooperative Alliance among others.

 

 

Presenting the petition on behalf of the group, Jane Amuge Okello, the Business Development Advisor at Uhuru Institute for Social Development, said the State minister for cooperatives and a department of cooperatives under the trade ministry are not good enough. She said the department of cooperatives is poorly staffed and grossly underfunded, which has led to inefficiency.

 

Amuge noted that establishing a fully-fledged cooperative ministry would deliver the much needed regulatory and oversight support at all levels leading to more organized entities cutting across various sectors such as transport, agriculture, housing, marketing, finance, value addition and others.

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In her response, Kadaga said the demand of the cooperatives will not come easily, saying it may take longer.

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There are over 16,000 registered cooperatives across the country. However, the petitioners say the cooperative movement continues to limp due to unresolved issues such as unclear legal and regulatory framework, unaffordable financing for medium and long term investments and a weak cooperative education system.

 

The cooperative are also pushing for the creation of a Cooperative Development Fund to avail funds to cooperators at subsidized interest rates. "Unlike the first cooperatives that were largely linked to the agricultural sector, cooperatives in Uganda today have evolved to engage in various business ventures like real estate, mining, passenger and goods transport, energy production and road construction and such investments necessitate huge capital", reads part of the petition. 

 

Amuge also appealed to the tenth parliament to put in place the Cooperative Regulatory Authority like in Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya to supervise and regulate the operations of cooperatives.

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The cooperative movement also seeks for the establishment of a parliamentary committee on cooperatives where their concerns will be channeled. Twaha Kyaka, the Business Development Manager Uganda Cooperatives Savings and Credit Union-UCSCU, says they find it necessary to have a standalone committee in parliament to act as a home or channel for all cooperative development related issues. 

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The other demands tabled by cooperatives include the revamping of cooperative education, presentation of the liquidation report of the defunct Cooperative Bank by Bank of Uganda to help cooperatives ascertain the current financial position of the debtors, creditors, shareholders and others.

They also appeal to parliament to prioritize debate and approval of the Cooperative Societies' Amendment Bill, 2015 with the objective of increasing the integrity of the cooperative movement and security of investments. Kadaga pledged the total support of the tenth parliament to ensure the challenges facing the sector are resolved.

 

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Charles Kabuga, the Head of the Cooperative Clan in Uganda, said their demands were arrived at during the nationwide consultations with cooperatives. He appealed to parliament to expeditiously address their demands to enable the cooperative movement flourish.