Ugandan Parliament asks government for funding to revive co-operatives

Legislators also backed calls to revive the country’s co-operative bank

The Parliament of Uganda has taken on board suggestions made by the country’s co-operative alliance and asked the government to provide funding for reviving the co-operative sector.

The country’s MPs passed a budget framework paper, which included a suggestion to allocate UGS 20bn (£3992.74) for co-operatives.

According to CICOPA, the move was welcomed by the Uganda Co-operative Alliance, which last year had raised the issue with the Parliament. In passing the paper, MPs argued that reviving the co-operative sector would help promote commercial agriculture and improve the economic welfare of the majority of Ugandans who depend on agriculture.

Another proposal backed by legislators was expediting the process of reviving the Uganda Co-operative Bank, which was liquidated eight years ago.

During an earlier meeting on 18 January, representatives from the Uganda Co-operative Alliance’s unions discussed the option to revive the bank, which, they estimated, could cost around UGS 100bn (£20m).

A new co-operative bank would help to offer affordable services to co-operative businesses. In the past the Parliament has recommended providing finance to cover war losses suffered by co-operative societies, some of which are struggling to retain property due to debts.

To address this, the paper proposes that the government provides UGS 45bn (£10m) to clear the debts owed to co-operatives unions. So far, the government has provided only UGS 2.1bn (£42,000) of the requested amount.

The measures suggested in the paper were also viewed favourably by the leader of the opposition, Winfred Kizza, who said reviving the co-operative sector would particularly help farmers. In an article for the local press, he said he had supported the attempt to remove taxes for saving and credit co-operatives (SACCOs) because they filled in a gap left by other co-ops.