SHEEMA– On July 2, 22, Uganda will join the rest of the world to mark celebrate the 100th International Day of Cooperatives [#CoopsDay]. The celebrations are held on the first Saturday of July.
A decade on from the UN International Year of Cooperatives, which showcased the unique contribution of cooperatives to making the world a better place, this year’s #CoopsDay slogan –“Cooperatives Build a Better World”– echoes the theme of the International Year.
Cooperators in Uganda guided by the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives have been engaged in a series of activities starting from June 25th up today itself.
The activities include holding national prayers on cooperatives, cleaning the urban markets countrywide, tree planting, blood donation, medical camp. There will also be National Cooperative Symposium to be held in Mbarara city.
Cooperatives’ exhibitions will also be held at Sheema stadium, Kabwohe Municipality in Sheema district where the national celebrations will take place, with President Yoweri Museveni expected to be the guest of honour.
This year’s celebrations are to be hosted by Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union [ACPCU] and Muhame Financial Services Cooperative Society Limited.
In June 2016, cooperatives in Uganda, supported by The Uhuru Institute for Social Development [TUI] to the Speaker of the 10th Parliament a 10-point petition to enable the revitalization of the cooperative sector in Uganda.
According to TUI Chief Executive Officer, Leonard Okello, since the petition was presented, The Cooperative Societies Act has been amended, compensation of Cooperative Unions for war losses started, Emyooga Programme and Parish Development Model [PDM] launched.
“Considering the current Government of Uganda’s focus on building cooperatives for development and socio-economic transformation, we recommend that parliament works with the Executive to address likely bottlenecks that threaten these grand ideas,” Okello said in a recent letter to the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among.
TUI has submitted to the Members of Parliament a Parliamentary Brief on the Cooperative Sector in Uganda. The Brief reminds the leaders of the need for; a fully-fledged and well funded independent Ministry of Cooperatives and the Cooperative Development Fund.
Other prayers focus on; Cooperative Regulatory Authority, Revamping the Cooperative Education Sector; revival of the Defunct Cooperative Bank; Cooperative Societies’ Amendment Bill 2015; East African Cooperative Societies Bill 2014; Taxation of Cooperatives and Compensation for war and policy change losses.
TUI in its policy brief, proposes that the Income Tax Act be amended such that a special tax regime for cooperatives is established to spur Uganda’s growth to middle-income status. Currently, cooperatives are subjected to a number of taxes including corporation tax of 30 percent, 15 percent withholding taxes on dividends, 15 percent withholding tax on interest on members’ deposits, and stamp duty of Shs 5,000 on every loan agreement exceeding Shs 3 million.
Tax analysts contend that levying withholding taxes on cooperative members’ dividends after corporation tax would be double taxation, unlike companies that generate income from the general public. “Lessons from countries like South Korea, Thailand highlight a need for a specific tax regime for the cooperative movement in order for it to play an instrumental role in promoting equitable development,” TUI adds.
“Cooperatives are answering the wake-up call of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who warned that the world is ‘on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction’, and exclaimed that ‘to restore trust, and inspire hope, we need cooperation, we need dialogue, we need understanding’. For nearly two centuries, cooperatives have been pulling in this direction. This was amply highlighted at the 33rd World Cooperative Congress, held by the International Cooperative Alliance in December 2021, which focused a spotlight on how their shared identity is moving cooperatives to take action to address the world’s problems” declared Bruno Roelants, Director General of the ICA.
The United Nations has invited cooperatives around the world to celebrate how the human-centred business model, inspired by the cooperative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity, and the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others, is building a better world.
Operating all around the world, in many different sectors of the economy, cooperatives have proven themselves more resilient to crises than the average. They foster economic participation, fight against environmental degradation and climate change, generate good jobs, contribute to food security, keep financial capital within local communities, build ethical value chains, and, by improving people’s material conditions and security, contribute to positive peace.
The 2022 Coopsday actions’ pack including the logo, key messages and other digital resources will be available soon.
Marked by cooperatives worldwide since 1923 and officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on the centenary of the ICA in 1995, the International Day of Cooperatives is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of July.
The aim of #CoopsDay is to increase awareness of cooperatives and promote the movement’s ideas of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace.
Since 1995, the ICA and the United Nations through Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) have jointly set the theme for the celebration of #CoopsDay.
Through #CoopsDay, local, national and global policymakers, civil-society organisations and the public in general can learn about the contribution of cooperatives to a secure future for all.
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