Uganda Co-operative Alliance ltd representing the Co-operative Movement in Uganda has engaged parliament on the amendment of the co-operative/SACCOS laws during the ongoing 18th Annual General Meeting of the parliamentary SACCO today at parliament.
Finally: Parliament Speaker fends for a single regulator for SACCOS
The Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Anita Annet Among pledges to support the amendment of the Tier 4 Microfinance and money lenders act to ensure that savings societies are regulated by a single body.
The Speaker remarked today (February 3, 2023) during the 18th Annual General Meeting of the Parliamentary Savings and Credit Co-operative society organizations at parliament.
“Charity starts at home let us spearhead the amendment so that SACCOs are regulated by either UMRA, Bank of Uganda or any other but not multiple” Speaker Among said.
Currently, SACCOS are regulated through the co-operative act which is separated into separate tiers, While Tier 4 Microfinance and Money Lenders act regulates co-operatives that deal in savings and crediting.
Under the law SACCOS are registered by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives, regulated by Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority and Bank of Uganda.
On 29th November 2022 Uganda Co-operative Alliance Limited asked government to realign the law that govern co-operatives and come with a single regulator like the case is in Kenya.
The General Secretary of Uganda Co-operative Alliance Ltd noted that the apex body is interested in regulating the sector because it protects members savings however, he says multiple bodies “stagnate” SACCOS.
“Co-operatives are not like companies or businesses, this is a unique because people come together to start their saving so if you make the law which is not in line with the values, it greatly affects them,” he said. Adding, “Let us (UCA) be engaged so that we give in our guidance on the way forward for the development of the movement” said Asiimwe.
Background of the Law
Parliament enacted the Tier 4 Microfinance and Money Lenders Act, 2016 which provided for the licensing of SACCOs.
Small SACCOs (below 1.5bn in savings and 500m institutional capital) licensed by Uganda Micro Finance Regulatory Authority (UMRA) under Tier 4 Microfinance and Money Lenders Act, 2016
Large SACCO’s (with Voluntary savings exceeding UGX. 1.5 billion and institutional capital of UGX. 500million) were to be licensed by the Bank of Uganda under the Micro Finance Deposit Taking Institution Act 2003 as amended by S. 110 (c) Tier 4 Act
In 2016, SACCOs were then regulated under 3 laws.
The Cooperative Societies Act Cap 112 was only for registering the society.
Tier 4 Act for licensing small SACCOs
Micro Finance Deposit Taking Institutions of 2003 for large SACCOs.
“You find that a 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.
AWAY FROM THE LAW
In the same vein the General Secretary was able to push other issues including the reestablishment of the co-operative bank, upgrading the two co-operative collages Uganda Co-operative Collage Kigumba and Tororo to Universities and or degree awarding institutions.
He added that the resource envelop of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives is not sufficient and supporting UCA and Unions to support government in implementing programs related to co-operatives.
“It should be MTIC, UCA and Unions to support government in establishment, development and strengthening co-operative since they have the appropriate requisite competence, we can only do it if we are financially supported” GS. Asiimwe said.
Recently the Ministry of Trade, Industry and co-operatives wrote to Bank of Uganda to give a comprehensive report on the closure of the Co-operative Bank.