Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Cabinet Secretary (CS), Peter Munya has promised to fast-track the passing of the Cooperative Bill 2021.
The Bill is currently ready after undergoing public participation. “This Bill has taken long since the passing of the Constitution 2010, but now working with the leadership of the House and the House Committee-In-Charge of cooperatives we will fast-track it,” said Munya.
The CS who was speaking during a three-day sensitization meeting for cooperative leadership on the Bill in Maasai Mara, Narok county, promised to set up a technical committee to come up with regulations that will be required for implementation of the bill once passed.
“The technical committee will largely start working on regulations because once the bill passes, the operationalization will be fast considering we have stayed for more than 11 years without a modern cooperative law,” he said.
The CS thanked the leaders for unanimously supporting the new Bill that he noted will address key challenges in the sector in terms of bringing in good governance and providing regulatory framework that will help nurture the sector.
Cooperative leaders have been discussing what the New Cooperative Bill will entail and how it’s going to be operating, once it’s been passed after amendments have been made to the Co-operatives Act- Cap 490, which has been in existence for more than 15 years
The Commissioner of Cooperatives, David Obonyo, said that with the process completed and validated, the leaders now understand what is in the Bill and once enacted they will be able to implement it seamlessly.
Some of the key issues captured in the Bill include registrations of Cooperatives and on this, Munya noted that for any cooperative to be registered at the moment, the process has to emanate from the respective County Government, that will ensure due diligence before recommending them for issuance of certificate by the Commissioner.
“The role of the Commissioner in the registration will be purely to ensure the application and by laws conform to the Cooperative Societies Act and rules there in and thereafter issue Certificate of the Registration.
The other key issue once the Bill is enacted, is on creation of a Nomination Committee, where every cooperative society will have a Nomination Committee that will vet competences and suitability of persons who want to vie for elective positions in the Cooperative Society, be it in the Board of Directors or even Supervisory.
“We have also strengthened the Supervisory Board to be that of the same level with Board of Directors, by giving them more mandate as their role is to oversee the operations of the Cooperative Society, since they are normally answerable to the general members,” he said.
He acknowledged that initially there was a delegate’s system that some cooperatives have been running, which was not incorporated in the Cooperative Act.
“In order to address the issue, the new Bill has now incorporated the delegate system as part of the governing policies in cooperatives, but cooperatives who have delegates should be aware that when they want to make drastic decisions, resolutions, mergers, the agenda must require the general membership, to participate and not only the delegates, Obonyo said
Cooperative Alliance of Kenya (CAK) Chairman, Mcloud Malonza, said the new Bill will be structured and used by one Apex body, it will be followed by Federations, unions and then primary Sacco’s and that’s the structure that will be adopted going forward.
“We had to put a structure which takes care of Sacco’s cutting across both National and County levels, after the change in the Constitutions,” he said, noting that the registration, supervision and regulations are going to be undertaken to ensure Sacco’s are solid.
John Githinji, Chairman new Fortis, formerly Nyeri Teachers Sacco and a stakeholder in the meeting, said the Bill will create a better platform on how Sacco’s are managed, governed and supervised by others stakeholders within the movement.
“It has left a mark and we want to appreciate the government for the efforts made to come up with the Bill,” he said, noting that the cooperative movement in Kenya is rated number seven (7) in the world and the best in Africa.
Githinji said as a stakeholder, they want to come on board, walk with this Bill, support and work within and see how much they will be able to roll-out for the next generation of cooperators, they are preparing to hand over to.
Dr. Lucy Mackenzie, Chair and Co-founder of Kenya, North America diaspora Sacco (KNARDS) and who participated in the sensitization meeting, said the Bill is very comprehensive, although it had not given a lot of thought on their petition.
“We have come with a petition as the diaspora group and the Commissioner has agreed to include the term diaspora in its table of contents in the Bill to truly indicate who we are as a diaspora sacco.
She explained that their main area of concern was the new regulations of 2020 by SASRA that is stringent and costly to the small saccos in the diaspora to qualify for licenses
Dr. Mackenzie, however, noted that being presence in the meeting allows them to have a sit at the table and also be heard by decision makers.
“The leadership knows we exist. When they talk about remittances, Diaspora Sacco’s have been able to mobilize funding that comes to Kenya,” she said, adding that at the end of December this year, the Diaspora Sacco’s and investment groups will have remitted Sh400 billion, which is Sh100 billion more from last year, showing that they are doing a good job in rallying funds to be remitted to Kenya.
Dr. Mackenzie appealed to the Cabinet Secretary to include at least a representative from the Diaspora Sacco in the Technical Committee that will be created to fast-track and look at the implementation of the cooperative Bill.
The three-day leader’s sensitization meeting was to analyze the Cooperative Bill 2021, what it entails, its legal ramifications and how it will affect the cooperative industry in future.
By Wangari Ndirangu