6 November 2012

South Sudan: Civil Servants in South Sudan Urged to Form Cooperative Societies

Juba — Civil servants in South Sudan have been called upon to form savings and credit cooperative societies (SACCOs) which will enable them to improve their socio-economic welfare.

Mr Kongor Ajang, a Cooperatives Inspector from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Cooperatives and Rural Development, said cooperative societies all over the world had helped low income earners to pool their resources and take various kinds of loans.

Mr Ajang said the Government was keen on developing the cooperatives sector, adding that the Cooperatives Societies Act 2011 would be used to regulate the cooperatives movement in the country.

Mr Ajang was speaking when he led a team of Cooperatives Officers to promote the idea of SACCOs to staff at the national Ministry of Labour, Public Service and HRD at the Ministry offices in Juba today.

He disclosed that the Directorate of Cooperatives was working on rules and regulations that will guide the implementation of the Cooperatives Societies Act. Mr Ajang said the Cooperative Bank of South Sudan had been established with initial funding from the government and added that cooperative societies would be shareholders in the bank.

Speaking at the meeting, Mrs Anne Ochoki, a Cooperatives Development Officer from Kenya, said that SACCOs had enabled low income earners in her country to achieve goals that they would not have attained on their own.

"SACCOs have enabled civil servants to build homes, pay fees for their children, to further their own education and to cater for family medical bills," Mrs Ochoki said. "Cooperatives are for small income earners who combine their resources so that they can accomplish projects that they cannot as individuals," she said.

She said once formed the SACCOs would provide members with development loans, school fees loans and emergency loans. Mrs Ochoki said cooperatives also provide members with loans at lower interest rates than commercial banks and other financial institutions, adding that they also don't charge loan processing fees and other miscellaneous charges.

She said SACCOs unlike banks do not require security or collateral for borrowers except guarantors and one's monthly income. Mrs Ochoki urged the staff not to doubt their abilities as cooperators saying they would achieve a lot by coming together.

Employees who spoke at the function welcomed the idea of cooperatives saying SACCOs if well run would help them develop and make other strategic investments. They said those who would be charged with managing the SACCOs must be persons of integrity and honesty, adding that it is only through proper management that members would reap maximum benefits from the cooperative movement.

Also present at the meeting were Cooperatives Inspectors Sarah Kielen and Stephen Modi as well as Ms Mary Hillary, the Director General for Administration and Finance in the Ministry of Labour and Public Service.

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