Members of unlicensed Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) are at risk of losing their hard-earned savings, Philip Otim, the Apac District Commercial Officer, has warned.
Available figures indicate that there are at least 14,000 licensed SACCOs in the country, while over 5,000 others are unlicensed and therefore operating illegally, without the knowledge of the regulator.
Otim issued the warning while handing over the ‘Probationary Certificate of Existence’ to Abulomogo Maize Farmers’ and Credit Cooperative Society in Kidiani parish, Chegere Sub County, in Apac district on Thursday.
Abulomogo is one of ten SACCOs that were recently granted restricted licenses by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) and the Registrar of Cooperative Societies to operate for six months ending in June this year.
Otim said that the bureau is in the process of cracking down on illegal SACCOs in order to safeguard savers from unscrupulous individuals.
“Notice is given to public and private entities that engage in any form of deposit-taking or SACCO business transactions with SACCOs that are not licensed: they are doing so at their own peril, and we will not be held accountable if the SACCOs disappear with their money,” he said.
He added that the law regulating the operation of Saccos makes it a criminal offense for any person to engage in SACCO business without a valid license from the authority.
“The has regulator cautioned such SACCOs, saying they face criminal proceedings for operating illegally and endangering members’ money. Those operating illegally face a fine of up to Shs 500, 000 or imprisonment for three years,” he added.
David Odora the Chegere Sub County male Councillor tasked SACCO leaders to ensure that their entities are quickly registered with the Registrar of Cooperatives to avoid risks. He also cautioned the public against saving and borrowing with unregistered SACCOs.
“How would you risk your money with unlicensed Saccos? Don’t throw your money in the rubbish pit by saving with some of these SACCOs that are not known by the government,” he said.
The Apac District Operation Wealth Creation Coordinator Col. Godfrey Okello appealed to Abulomogo’s members to be innovative and identify other income-generating projects to promote the progress of their SACCO.
“Save, borrow, pay, and above all think of other business ventures to develop your SACCO further,” he advised.
He also cautioned them to eschew the mismanagement of public funds and instead embrace transparency and accountability.
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