The Lira district Employees’ saving and credit cooperative organization (SACCO) has been revived six years after it fell dormant as a result of recurrent challenges.
Established in June 2012 with the aims of promoting saving and availing easy access to credit for the civil servants and other employees of Lira District Local Government, the SACCO was rocked by several challenges, including mismanagement of funds and loss of clients
Lira Employees’ SACCO was started by senior public officers with an original membership of 346 civil servants, to improve their standards of living. Members each committed to making monthly savings to the SACCO.
Then Lira district Chairman, Alex Oremo Alot and his CAO contributed Shs 500,000 each, while other civil servants saved Shs 20,000 monthly. The members were eligible to apply for loans.
Decline and collapse
However, according to a report by the Secretary to the Board of governors, Irene Akidi, the majority of the SACCO’s members, especially the low-ranking civil servants, were unable to get loans.
Worse still, some senior officers were illicitly appropriating SACCO funds for their own use.
“Many senior officers who own private companies that supply the district often don’t have the capital to finance their tenders. For them, the SACCO’s funds were an easy and convenient source of funding,” the report noted.
It was then recommended that the SACCO be disbanded.
Although Akidi’s report had recommended that the SACCO be disbanded, then the head of the SACCO’s legal department, Julius Obongi, suggested that membership be made voluntary.
As a result, more than 200 officers out of the 346 opted out.
Despite some reforms in its management, many officers chose to seek loans from credit financial companies that charged high-interest rates. In the end, the majority failed to pay, thus burdening the Employees’ SACCO.
These turbulent circumstances eventually led to a break in the SACCO’s operations, which lasted six years.
Nevertheless, in an interview with theCooperator last Friday, Irene Akidi, the Secretary to the SACCO’s board, revealed that the Employees’ SACCO has been revived and is looking forward to retaining its vibrant members.
“From the time of its collapse, most of the activities including the general meetings have not been held, but we are doing what it takes to follow up with all our former members before we begin registering new members,” she said.
Akidi noted that the mistake had been made in the past, of allowing members to withdraw their savings on a monthly basis, thereby draining the SACCO’s accounts of funds, something she said they intend to address this time around.
“We will propose to the district council to make it mandatory for all employees in the district to save at least 20,000 shillings of their monthly salaries, and then restrict members from making frequent withdrawals so as to develop the SACCO,” she added.
Lira district LC5 Alex Oremo Alot asked the SACCO’s Executives to make it attractive by adhering to established SACCO guidelines, holding regular meetings, and observing financial transparency. Oremo pledged his full support to the newly revived SACCO.
“As the district leadership, we will continue to support the initiatives of this savings scheme and work with them to ensure no worker in need will be left without support,” he said. Oremo says that the government is working hand-in-hand with the Uganda Cooperative Alliance to ensure that the SACCO is strengthened.
Bonny Okello, a primary school teacher in Bar Sub County Lira district, says that the revival of the SACCO will save civil servants in the district from the high-interest loans offered by microfinance money lenders.
“Now that the SACCO is revived,” Okello noted, “it will be easy to get a loan at a low-interest rate compared to other commercial banks and microfinance money lending institutions.”
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