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Ghana Cooperatives Council appeals for tax waivers, Uganda cited

ACCRA, April 8, 2024 – The Board Chairman of Ghana Cooperative Council, Dr Bernard B. B. Bingab has again appealed to the government to consider offering tax waivers to the country’s cooperative sector which has been supporting cocoa production.

Bingab explained days ago that cooperatives are not conventional businesses, but rather social networks and should not be taxed, adding that Ghana is an isolated case of countries still taxing cooperatives in the world.

“We want to remind the government in power and those that will come that we will continue to ask for tax waivers for the cooperative sector. If you start taxing us, you are eating your eggs before they are hatched. Countries like Gambia, Kenya, Uganda, Canada among others do not tax the cooperatives sector. The cocoa sector is the biggest foreign exchange earner for the country so to tax it means you are demoralising those who are engaged in it,” Bangab was quoted by the local media.

Bingab was speaking at the National Dialogue on Cooperative Development organised recently by SOCODEVI, a Canadian non-governmental organisation in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada at the University of Ghana in Accra.

He urged government and political parties to outline their policies for the cooperative sector as they head into the December 7 general elections else they would advice themselves.

The programme was part SOCODEVI’s CAD 11 million project named “TogetHER – Women and Cocoa Communities Initiative” under the theme “Promoting Cooperatives for Sustainable Development” funded by Global Affairs Canada.

The five-year project currently ongoing in the Ashanti and Western North Regions began in 2022. It aimed at empowering women and young adults [18-35 years] in rural cocoa producing communities in the two regions. It also sought to reduce gender gaps in the cocoa sector, so that cooperatives can be become more inclusive, foster women and youth equal and effective participation and truly sustain their empowerment.

The Country Director of SOCODEVI, Nicolas Demers-Labrousse, said the “TogetHER” project has enrolled 3,000 women and 1,000 young people from rural cocoa-growing communities. Adding that it is also providing leadership and financial training to 300 women and 100 young girls.

He said training would be offered to 150 Village Savings and Loans [VSLAs] in collective savings, entrepreneurship and financial inclusion to improve their socio-economic shock resistance. The project is expected to improve the living conditions of 80,000 people.

On challenges facing the cooperatives, Dr Bingab said the current cooperatives law enacted in 1968 has outlived its usefulness, and should be revised to address some of the pertinent issues facing the sector.

“A lot things in the law are obsolete, outdated and therefore does not stand the reality. It is making it very difficult to operate; some of our neighbouring countries have revised their laws as recent as 2022 and we are stilling using  the Cooperative Societies Decree, 1968,” he said.

He added that most of their members have been affected by the financial sector clean up and have also not felt the inclusivity promised by the government.

Demers-Labrousse explained that the cocoa sector has been heavily impacted by galamsey activities as cocoa farms have been cut down for illegal mining purposes.
Kwabena Apraku Yeboah in a speech read on behalf of Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah indicated that his “ministry is currently working assiduously to obtain a revised cooperative law that promotes cooperative development”. 

He added that the “government is interested in the development of the cooperative sector because it has seen how it is helping many countries in the developed world grow their economies and ensure the betterment of the lives of their citizens.”

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