Ministry heeds governors plea, puts Cooperatives Bill on hold

Agriculture and Cooperatives Committee Chairperson and Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

The Ministry of Cooperatives and MSMEs has resolved to put the Cooperatives Bill, 2023, on hold after county governments kicked up a storm claiming they were not consulted in drafting the proposed law.

The Bill currently in Parliament will now be put on hold even as the Ministry and the Council of Governors (CoG) consult, with the council proposing amendments.

The CoG, through its Cooperative Committee, had raised concerns that the Bill lacked approval of the county governments.

"The council notes with great concern that the draft Cooperative Bill 2023 was approved by the Cabinet on October 2023 and thereafter introduced to Parliament in December 2023, despite a summit resolution stating that the Bill will only be approved upon agreement by both levels of government," read a statement by the Agriculture and Cooperatives Committee Chairperson Kenneth Lusaka.

The CoG called on the ministry to withdraw the Bill to allow extensive engagement and consideration of comments from key stakeholders including the county governments.

In response, Cooperatives and MSMEs Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui, announced that the Bill in Parliament will be put on hold to allow consultations.

Chelugui was speaking after a consultative meeting between the Ministry and Intergovernmental Technical Relations Committee(IGTRC).

"I will be able to communicate to Parliament to hold the process as we set up technical teams and incorporate some of the agreements we have had here. We look forward to all that being put together in one week's time and then we will be able to engage the next process," he said.

The CoG recommended various amendments for better implementation of the proposed law by the county governments.

Among the recommendations is the amendment to the functions of the Commissioner of Cooperatives, reintroduced by the Cooperative Bill 2023.

In the Bill, the Commissioner shall be responsible for the growth, development and regulation of cooperatives in Kenya.

However, the CoG is proposing that the Commissioner shall be responsible for provision of technical assistance to the county governments in the growth and development of cooperatives.  

This, the council argues is to align to the provisions of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution which has devolved trade development and regulation including cooperatives societies to county governments and the function of capacity building and provision of technical assistance to the counties as the national government.

According to the governors, the county governments role is to ensure development and regulation of cooperatives in their respective jurisdictions as well as registration of primary and secondary cooperatives.

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