The National Board Chairman of the Ghana Cooperative Credit Unions Association (CUA), Dr. Bernard B.B. Bingab, wants government to support cooperatives along the agricultural sector, given their provable potential to transform the sector.
This approach, according to Dr. Bingab, holds significant promise for ushering in a new era of agricultural transformation, which will ultimately lead to enhanced food sustainability and security in the country.
The cooperative model, revered for its ability to empower small-scale farmers and bolster economic growth, offers a myriad of compelling benefits. These include economic empowerment through resource pooling, knowledge exchange for enhanced productivity, expanded market access, streamlined input procurement, collective risk mitigation and a steadfast commitment to environmental sustainability.
Notably, the cooperative model also fosters social cohesion within rural communities, heralding a holistic approach to agricultural advancement among others.
It is against this backdrop that the National Board Chairman of CUA noted that the urgency of revisiting and revitalising the cooperative model cannot be overstated. He observed that if poverty reduction and food security are anything to go by, the cooperative model is the only way out.
To this end, he posited that this government and subsequent ones should therefore pay attention to cooperatives.
Speaking in Accra as part of the ‘International Cooperative Day’ celebration that marks the 101st anniversary of cooperatives, he stated that until the Income Tax Act promulgated in 2015 cooperative unions were exempted from corporate tax.
However, he mentioned that the recent development has become a huge financial burden to cooperative unions – given they are no longer part of the exempted list. He therefore used the occasion to appeal for government to revise this decision.
The ceremony to mark International Cooperative Day celebrations was held under the theme ‘Cooperatives for sustainable development’.
The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, also speaking at the ceremony, reckoned that the Cooperative Department as a state body has done so much for the country in the past, but is now living below its expected level.
“In the past, especially in our rural communities, anywhere you went huge buildings that existed mostly belonged to the Cooperative. As well, in some parts of Accra like Adabraka most of the mighty buildings which have been in existence to date were put up by either cooperatives or using their resources,” he stated.
Against this background, he queried the lack of unity in business – noting that he has continued to entreat the Registrar of Cooperatives to find a way of modernising the way business operations are carried out at the Department.
This, he noted, will make it easy for associations to be formed and also operate.
The Minister conceded that: “If there is a method to development that we may have lost and which we need to get back to, then I strongly believe that method is the cooperative”.
Among other things, he insisted: “If we want to speed up the rate of development among ourselves, put up skyscrapers as existing in other countries, what we have to do is to pull resources together to do crowdfunding”.
Mr. Baffour Awuah therefore entreated those operating in the cooperative environment to commit to the establishment’s ideals to make this realisable, while assuring his readiness to support this effort.
Given that the laws governing operations of cooperatives are outdated, he announced that efforts are ongoing to review the laws – with a committee already put in place to undertake this exercise.
It is hoped that the Committee’s work will lead to a law that is more functional and reflective of modern activities, he added.
The Acting Registrar-CUA, Kwabena Apraku Yeboah, stated that this year’s activities to observe the global cooperative day celebrations were planned to help take stock of the activities and impacts made by cooperatives; and to chart the way forward for further development and economic growth.
He explained that the cooperative concept emerged as a means of finding solutions to socio-economic problems such as unemployment and low productivity.
Mr. Apraku Yeboah further disclosed that the Department of Cooperatives through the sector ministry is spearheading the introduction of a new Cooperatives bill that seeks to strengthen the cooperative sector.