By Tsozungu Kombe
Saccos and Co-operatives societies in the country have been urged to play an active role in the government’s Big Four Agenda in a bid to realize speedy development.
Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, Mr Adan Mohammed further said that the Government’s Big Four Agenda are Manufacturing, Food Security, Affordable Housing and Health Care.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, Mr Ali Noor Ismail, during the official opening of the 3rd Annual Saccos’ Leaders Convention 2018 hosted at Sarova Whitesands Beach Hotel in Mombasa county recently, Mr Mohammed encouraged Saccos and Housing Co-operatives to take advantage of the Mortgage Tax Relief and 15 percent Real Estate Developers Corparate Tax to contribute to the realization of 500,000 low cost housing units under the Big Four Agenda which was extended as an incentive to Co-operatives by the Government in 2017 through Miscellaneous Amendment Bill.
He, however, told Saccos to ensure all their members have access to and use appropriate financial services.
“As you strive to improve the livelihood of members, then let financial inclusion be part of your efforts” the Cabinet Secretary told the Sacco Delegates who attended the 3rd Annual Saccos’ Leaders Convention 2018 in Mombasa County recently.
However, Mr Mohammed said the outcome of this Convention will be pursued to the highest level with the objective of making inclusion through Saccos an integral part of the Government’s objectives.
The Cabinet Secretary stated that the role of Saccos in financial inclusion is very important, arguing that the achievement of national economic development begins with forums of this nature, where Sacco officials share information and observe best practices on what actually should be done, to ensure sustainable and all-encompassing growth which is valuable to Kenyans.
Progress has been made in building more equitable societies following the introduction of various programmes by both the National Government and counties to improve people’s livelihoods.
He said that as a result the growth potential of the country remains robust, with the Gross Domestic Product ( GDP ) expected to rise with a 5.8 percent growth in 2018 from 5.1 percent in 2017.
This year’s 3rd Annual Saccos Leaders Convention 2018, Theme was: “ Saccos Advancing Financial Inclusion in Kenya.”
Economic activities in the country have been diversified over the past decade, attracting increased foreign direct investment and benefiting from rising investments in real estate, renewable energy (e.g. geothermal and solar) as well as roads and railways, he noted. He lamented that 17.4 percent of the Kenyan population are still excluded especially those in the lower segments from the formal financial services.
“Financial inclusion is a critical enabler for poverty reduction and inclusive growth. Policy makers locally and globally have been embracing financial inclusion as an important development priority,” he added. He said that this helps poor households improve their lives and spurs economic activity, adding that this has also been identified as an enabler for 7 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the country.
He said that the G20, for instance, made the issue one of its pillars at the 2009 Pittsburgh Summit, and committed to improving financial services for the poor. Kenya has so far achieved a 50 percent increase in financial inclusion within the last ten years according to a 2016 FinAccess Household Surveym adding that this growth has largely been achieved through mobile money Solutions, which have made access to money and loans, fast, secure and more affordable, both nationally and internationally.
“To further increase their role in financial inclusion, Saccos in the country should, therefore, leverage on Information Technology and mobile payments so as to bring additional people into the formal financial system, and frequent use of appropriate Social Media platform and interaction”, Mr Mohammed added. Sacco top officials need to have a mechanism in place to measure and monitor financial inclusion, adding hat such data plays a crucial role in enabling Sacco stakeholders assess what the quantifiable role of Saccos in Financial inclusion is.
“By collaborating with key players like KUSCCO and SASRA, we can bring to light the role of Saccos in financial inclusion,” he said.
“Data will inform policy interventions, help in assessing progress and if necessary, we have to adjust laws and policies to be more accommodative to Saccos. Without financial inclusion data and information, we cannot quantify the impact of our efforts ,” he added.
He pledged that the Government will continue to provide a conducive environment for the growth and development of Saccos in the country by putting in place in enabling policy and legislative framework.
He said the Government will work closely with county governments so as to sustain the growth momentum in the Co-operative sector.