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State extends housing loans to cooperative societies

The Government has strengthened the newly established Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (KMRC), which will offer banks and SACCOs cash for onward lending to households and offer zero stamp duty to first-time homeowners.

Speaking today in Nairobi during the 99th celebration of the International Cooperative Day known as ‘Ushirika’, Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperative Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said this noble initiative will enable cooperators to be able to afford houses.

“The Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company will offer fixed-rate long term loans initially at concessional rates to financial institutions and these loans will be offered to participating financial institutions to finance affordable housing loans as per the Government’s Big Four Agenda”, he noted.

Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives CS, Peter Munya addressing the Press at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, after presiding over the International Cooperative Day fetes. Photo by Wangari Ndirangu

The CS reiterated that the affordable housing loans are capped at Sh4 million within the Nairobi Metropolis (Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado) and Sh3 million elsewhere and to be extended to borrowers with a monthly income of not more than Sh150, 000.

Munya said the government is cognizant of the challenges faced by co-operatives and because of this several reforms have been undertaken over the years to address these issues.

Major challenges that have been facing cooperatives are weak governance, high cost of finance, inadequate market access, delays and non-remittance of deductions by employers, massive investments in non-core activities, over dependence on external funding, non-performing loans, obsolete technology, cybercrime & fraud; low capital base; low participation of youth and women and also inadequate human resource capacity.

The CS explained that the government has now finalized the process of reviewing the National Co-operative Policy and added the Bill is at the tail end of the Parliamentary process.

He said the policy recognizes Co-operatives as vehicles for realization of Kenya Vision 2030. And also identifies co-operatives as private organizations that serve public good.

“The two levels of Government shall continue to work closely with the Co-operative Alliance of Kenya (CAK) among other stakeholders to promote self-regulation. It is expected to provide direction on the way the co-operative sector is governed in order to achieve socio-economic development”, he said

He added that comprehensive review of the Co-operative Societies Act and the SACCO Societies Act is also underway and that automation of services through Co-operative Management Information System (CMIS) to ease linkages with the counties and co-operative societies in order to enhance service delivery is also on course

“We are in the process of facilitating establishment of the Kenya Society for Professional Co-operators (KSPC), and this is expected to enhance professionalism in co-operatives by setting minimum operational and ethical standards as well as offer foster leadership and management capacities within the co-operative sector to deliver to members’ satisfaction”, Munya said

The CS noted that the two levels of government shall continue to work closely with the Co-operative Alliance of Kenya (CAK) among other stakeholders to promote self-regulation.

Daniel Marube, Cooperative Alliance of Kenya (CAK) CEO asked cooperative Sacco’s to adhere to the new regulations, saying the 2020 Regulations for Non-Deposit Taking (NDT) SACCOs that have been operationalized are not meant to be punitive but to provide direction on the way the co-operative sector is governed.

“SASRA is ready to handhold those cooperatives that have not met the threshold on registration for licensing by assisting them to ensure they register and adhere to the new regulations.

Nairobi County Director of Co-operatives Dolphin Aremo said cooperative is a devolved function with Nairobi being in charge of over 70 per cent cooperatives having mobilized assets worth Sh400 billion.

The United Nations decided that every year on the first Saturday of July be designated as Global Cooperatives Day.  Today’s celebrations markS the 99th day and is running under the theme “REBUILD BETTER TOGETHER”.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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