As government plan to revive cooperatives in Uganda with shs.120billions to be allocated in the next fiscal year [2019/2020], the ruling party [government] has strongly denied killing it.
At the 9th National Development Policy Forum [NDPF] conference held on Tuesday at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala, on the theme: “Strengthening Cooperatives for Socio-Economic Transformation in Uganda”, speaker after speaker blamed government for destroying once powerful cooperatives in the country.
David Bahati who’s the State Minister of Finance for Planning says today many people think under Dr. Milton Obote regime, Cooperatives was strong.
On claims that it has died, Bahati denied it, adding that cooperatives are an integral part of government’s economic strategy in poverty alleviation, employment creation, food security and for equal resource distribution.
Meanwhile, Dr Joseph Muvawala, the Executive Director National Planning Authority [NPA], says a well developed tertiary level of Cooperatives is critical for the provision of dedicated services including insurance, finance and marketing.
Dr Muvawala asked government to create a Directorate at the current line Ministry that would compose of auditing, finances, among others.
Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the Chairperson Bugisu Cooperative in Eastern Uganda asked government to go back to the villages where many Cooperatives are rather than starting revival from the top.
He says regime should also focus on inspection of primary society and auditing which he says need some good money.
“99 percent of Ugandans wake up in the morning to look for money for food. In America and Erupoe, 0.05 percent of people wake up in the morning to look for money to increase their wealth. When you have money, the economy grows,” Mafabi noted.
Mr Mafabi further says Uganda Cooperative Alliance has currently taken space which should have been occupied by Cooperative societies or unions.
To Ngobi Frederick Gume, State Minister for Cooperatives, those criticizing regime’s handling of Cooperatives must know that Cooperatives of 1960s should not equal that of 2018.
“Uganda is now liberalized. We must do business in the current settings,” Gume added.
He however blasted Cooperators for lacking transparency and allocating few hours to debate a number of items on the agenda during meeting, something he says is ‘fraud’.
Jane Amuge Okello, the Executive Director of The Uhuru Institute says: “Government should harmonize the Cooperative Laws in Uganda so that there is harmony in cooperative administration and governance.”
Closing the conference on behalf of Prime Minister, Dr Rhuakana Rugunda – Finance Minister Matia Kasaija told the conference that the problem has been on performance under Crop Financing.
“Then, the cooperatives could not compete. In my Kukamiro Union, money would take five days to mature,” he says.
“Government [NRM] didn’t deliberately kill the cooperatives. We have changed the policies as it was not working well in the past,” he defended government.
He says if Cooperatives union must be revived fully, cooperators must be organized right from the grassroots level.
“The questions of good morals, how business should be conducted must be paramount to cooperators. Any person now having problem getting money is because he or she doesn’t have economic activity,” Minister Kasaija advised.
The Finance Minister says [reading PM’s speech], says government is committed to compensating cooperators whose assets were destroyed by NRA/NRM government 32 years ago.
“Government is on the process of verifying and compensating Cooperative [Unions] who lost assets during liberation era,” Prime Minister said, calling on Ugandans to be ready for the transformation.