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EAC Cooperative Societies Bill Gets Massive Support

The Bill is based on the understanding that each Partner State shall undertake to encourage the efficient use of resources and to promote the development of private sector organizations which are engaged in all types of economic activities, such as the chambers of commerce and industry, confederations and associations of industry, agriculture among others.
23 Jan 2015 12:16
The East African Legislative Assembly is on the verge of enacting into law, the EAC Cooperative Societies Bill, 2014 after receiving massive support from all members states. EALA Members have extensively debated the Bill, before passing it through its second reading.

The bill, moved by Ugandan legislator Mike Sebalu intends to harmonize national co-operative laws in the EAC partner states, and to provide a framework for co-operatives to exploit the EAC regional integration agenda.

The move is also advanced by the regional members of Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) as they seek to enhance the engagement of the co-operative movement in the EAC integration process. It proposes to permit co-operatives to draw their membership from any of the EAC partner states. This implies that unions and SACCOs in Uganda can have members from any of the five member states.

Debate on the bill resumed last evening following interruption on October 28, 2014. It was preceded by the presentation of the Report of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources which observed a need for specific clauses that allow for the co-operatives to promote and benefit the regional integration agenda.

The Bill is based on the understanding that each Partner State shall undertake to encourage the efficient use of resources and to promote the development of private sector organizations which are engaged in all types of economic activities, such as the chambers of commerce and industry, confederations and associations of industry, agriculture among others. 

EALA Members proposed a raft of changes on the Bill right from the formation and registration of Societies, democratic member control, concern for the community, autonomy and independence; all considered and deemed to be vital to the existence of the cooperatives.

During debate, EALA member Nancy Abisai noted that the Bill was holistic as it cuts across the needs of all sectors. “The idea of pulling together of resources through cooperatives has seen many, especially women fundamentally progress and develop. People within co-operatives are today able to borrow funds based on low interest rates and this is very vital,”  Abisai said.

Nusura Tiperu, another member of the assembly said the passage of the Bill would positively impact on the local citizens.  “It is a key piece of legislation that is in partial fulfillment of Article 105 and 128 of the Treaty for the EAC”, she said.

The mover of the Bill, Hon Mike Sebalu termed the Bill demand-driven and one that is a tool of transformation and empowerment for primary producers. Sebalu further explained that the regional law will be supreme over the respective national laws operating in the countries, without any form contradiction because the provisions were tabled before the stakeholders and debated accordingly.

Next week, the Assembly is expected to re-constitute itself into a Committee of the whole House to scrutinize through the Bill clause by clause.

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