President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday ordered the Trade ministry to immediately operationalise the proposed Sacco Societies Fraud Investigation Unit (SSFIU) within the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA).
The President issued the directive at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi during celebrations to mark the 97th International Cooperative Day.
Mr Kenyatta lauded Kenya's cooperative movement for the invaluable role it plays in the country’s progress. The movement is ranked the best in Africa and the seventh best globally with an asset base of more than Sh1 trillion.
To enhance saccos' contributions to economic growth, he said the government will increase policy interventions to seal loopholes.
He also directed the ministry to fast-track formulation of the National Cooperatives Policy and called for the speedy creation of a central liquidity facility which will enable saccos to participate in the national payment system and come up with more innovative products for members.
“Our goal as a government is to serve as facilitators and enablers, to clear the path for cooperatives so that they and their members can realise their full potential,” he said.
Mr Kenyatta noted that cooperatives have mobilised more than Sh732 billion in members’ savings and deposits and that they hold a loans portfolio of Sh700 billion.
"Directly and indirectly, cooperatives account for 45 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product and 30 per cent of national savings and deposits."
He also noted that cooperatives play an integral role in fostering national unity.
“The cooperative sector is a towering example of what can be achieved through unity, coming together for the common good, hard work, enterprise, sacrifice and unyielding commitment to positive goals."
President Kenyatta also acknowledged saccos' roles in achievement of the Big Four agenda on manufacturing, food security, universal health coverage and affordable housing.
On housing, he said the government was partnering with the sector to ensure that as many Kenyans as possible enjoy the dignity of owning their own decent homes.
“I am informed that with over 1,980 housing/investment cooperatives with an asset base of Sh31 billion, cooperatives are an ideal vehicle to provide at least 25 per cent of the 500,000 new houses required across the country,” said the President.
He revealed that 12 deposit-taking saccos have subscribed to the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company, recently established as a vehicle to unlock liquidity for mortgage financing under the government's affordable housing programme.
The President also applauded successful government interventions in cooperatives, such as the Kenya Cooperative Creameries.
He said, however, that he was disappointed with the performance of the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) and the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA).
Consequently, he directed the Trade ministry to restructure the two giant cooperatives.