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Saccos regulator gets bigger role in proposed reforms  

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Sasra chair John Munuve during a February 3 briefing. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

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Summary

  • The policy will bring all financial cooperatives into the regulatory umbrella of the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (Sasra).
  • The new policy will also beef up of the role of Commissioner for Cooperative Development.

The long awaited reforms in the cooperative sector have moved a step closer after Parliament opened the draft National Cooperatives Development Policy to public scrutiny ahead of debate in the chamber.

The policy will bring all financial cooperatives into the regulatory umbrella of the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (Sasra), raising hopes of taming of the financial improprieties that have characterised non-deposit taking saccos that are currently not under Sasra oversight.

The new policy will also beef up of the role of Commissioner for Cooperative Development whose ability to provide effective regulation has been hampered by inadequate workforce.

Under the current laws, Sasra regulates deposit taking Saccos, while the non-deposit taking cooperatives are overseen by the Commissioner for Cooperative Development.

“To avoid duplicity in the regulatory regime of financial cooperatives and allow for smooth transition of Sacco societies as they expand their services from back office to front office operations, the role of Sasra will be expanded,” read the draft regulations in part.

“The government recognises the need the need to strengthen enforcement and therefore proposes to restructure Sasra to allow it regulate all financial cooperatives. It will also create a Cooperative Regulatory Authority for non-financial cooperatives.”

An increasing number of Kenyan Saccos are reeling under the weight of mismanagement, fraud and bad loans that have put the sector on a path of instability that if not reversed could have damaging contagion on the entire economy.

Experts and government officials say the absence of a robust regulatory framework opens an avenue for officials to embezzle and run down cooperative societies while escaping prosecution.

At stake are hundreds of billions of shillings of members’ savings that have either been lost or are at risk of being lost as more and more cases of financially troubled Saccos come to the fore.