Uganda Cooperative Alliance Ltd (UCA) is an umbrella body of Cooperatives in Uganda, established in 1961 to serve as a voice of the Cooperative Movement at both national and international level, with the mandate to recommend to government on matters of policy relating to cooperatives, arbitration (settlement of disputes), advocate and represent cooperative interests, capacity building, business skills development and resources mobilization for the Cooperative Movement. UCA membership includes cooperatives of different forms covering the entire country with majority of the members engaged in the agricultural value chains. Through her lobby and advocacy strategies, UCA is focusing on the establishment of a strong and viable financial institution that will provide affordable financing to Cooperatives and their Businesses. This financial institution will serve as a Cooperative Bank.
Through lobby and advocacy therefore, Uganda Cooperative Alliance Ltd. on 28th June 2016, led a team of cooperators who petitioned the Speaker of Parliament on a ten-point. Among the issues raised were the same issues that have been addressed by the Parliament including:-
• Asking the Government to allocate shs20b in the next budget of the 2018/2019 financial year for the revival of co-operatives. The proposal is contained in the budget committee report on the 2018/2019 budget frame work paper which Parliament recently passed. The MPs believe reviving Co-operatives will greatly help in promoting commercial agriculture and improve the economic welfare of majority of Ugandans who depend on Agriculture.
• Acknowledging the importance of Cooperatives and their revival as one of the Key components in the National Development Plan for the realization of the Plan’s objectives.
• Suggesting to Government to expedite the process of reviving the Uganda Co-operative Bank to create a solid foundation for co-operatives.
• The legislators also believe that it is necessary for the Government to intervene and clear the old debts which cooperatives have.
• The Committee noted with concern that over the years, Parliament has recommended for provision of funds to clear war losses to cooperative societies. Most co-operatives are losing property due to debts. The Government has only provided 2.1b out of the requested funding of sh45b. The Committee recommends that Government should provide the 45b to clear the debts owed to the cooperative unions so that they can save their assets.
• Commenting on the proposal to revive co-operatives, the Leader of Opposition Hon. Winfred Kizza said it would be a good undertaking to revive the Co-operatives because they greatly help the citizens to engage in commercial farming.
• “That is why we pushed for the removal of taxes on Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOS) because they are the ones occupying the vacuum that was created after co-operatives had been killed” Hon. Winfred Kizza said.
Uganda Cooperative Alliance Ltd. therefore, appreciates Parliament for having worked on some of the issues raised in the petition as listed above.
On 5th Feb UCA signed an MOU with Puliida to offer legal information and training to Cooperatives under UCA. This comes after Cooperatives were facing a mile stone of challenges with the Law and on several occasions lost cases in court due to luck of enough knowledge on laws for Cooperatives.
Speaking at the signing ceremony at the UCA office in Kampala, the General Secretary Ivan Asiimwe said that Cooperatives have been complaining about continuously losing court cases, mainly because Cooperatives have not been receiving the right and ample legal information hence the need to contract Puliida that will be in position to help the cooperators in understanding the legal information on Cooperatives.
Puliida is a Not for Profit company incorporated under the laws of Uganda whose core objective is to offer transactional legal assistance and training to cooperatives, farmer groups, agribusinesses and social entrepreneurs. Given its background and expertise in the field of farmers and Coops UCA saw it was well positioned to train and provide legal information to Coops.
“The purpose of this MOU is to help cooperators with legal information and Capacity building and research for them to be able to walk the right legal path,” Asiimwe said.
Moses Mugisha, the Executive Director Puliida Uganda, said that the reason cooperatives have been having issues with court cases is because they have not been following the proper legal procedures in procuring contracts hence the lawyers once in court would find themselves with little evidence and knowledge on the functionality of Coops.
“This is what we are going to help them with. We are going to make sure the Cooperatives have the guidance to do proper documentation before they enter into any transaction,” Mugisha said.
He added that some of the lawyers that have been representing cooperators, although they have the experience and the right legal training lack the element of understanding of how cooperatives operate hence the need for training.“Our job will be to train UCA members and willing lawyers who are going to offer litigation services to cooperators so that they understand what is needed in court for cooperative issues,” he added. However it was clear that Puliida will not offer litigation or legal advice to cooperators.
By Brenda Karungi
On Thursday January 18th 2018 Uganda Cooperative Alliance as an umbrella body for cooperative movement in the country organized a one day National Level Consultative Dialogue on the Revival of the Co-operative Bank.
Over 100 representatives from Cooperatives and Unions across the country turned up for the dialogue to deliberate on the modalities of the Bank. During the dialogue the Cooperators challenged the idea of government funding the Bank saying that it would kill the spirit of co-operatives in Uganda. Dr. Fred Muhumuza, an economist who was one of the key panelists told Cooperators that they needed at least 100billion Uganda shillings to set up structures of a bank.
The Cooperative Bank in Uganda was started in 1964 with the main objective of providing affordable financial services to Cooperatives and their businesses most especially to enhance the availability of affordable financing to viable projects in Agriculture and Micro and Medium scale enterprises development in the country.
However on 9th May 1999, the Cooperative Bank was closed by the Central Bank of Uganda with reasons that it had “inadequate capitalization” and insolvency consequently creating a big financing gap in the economy. Uganda's Co-operative societies, Cooperative Unions, Traders, farmers and other Agriculture value chain actors, experience difficulty in accessing credit and other financial services from commercial banks on account of high interest rates and unfavorable repayment terms. With the Bank in place it would easily provide the financial assistance to them.
The former General Secretary of UCA, a friend of cooperatives and one that also spearheaded efforts to salvage the Cooperative Bank before it was liquidated, advised Co-operators to heed challenges that led to the liquidation of the former Cooperative Bank such as: ownership, credit management, governance, management etc he suggested that the bank may be called Bank for Cooperatives Uganda unlike Co-operative Bank of Uganda.
Finally at the end the dialogue the Cooperators looked at a possibility of partnering with, Uganda Central Cooperatives Financial Services (UCCFS) build on it later which would transform into a Cooperators Bank. UCA was tasked to carry out a feasibility study on Cooperative Bank in Uganda before starting the new Bank.