Members of Parliament from the Standing Committee on Economy and Trade this morning began a two-week tour of the country to assess the performance of sectors’ Savings and Credit Co-operatives (Umurenge-SACCOs).
Visiting at least three SACCOs in every district, the legislators will seek to understand how the financial cooperatives are performing in terms meeting their core mission of helping people at the grassroots level to save their incomes and get funding for their projects.
Speaking to The New Times today, shortly before the legislators’ departure to the field, Connie Bwiza, the committee chair, said that the trip will help them come up with recommendations on how to improve the SACCOs’ performance.
“It is our obligation to assess how the country is advancing with regards to achieving targets laid out in the EDPRS II. Any time is a good time for appropriate monitoring and evaluation of the country’s economic development programmes,” she said.
Under its second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II), the government has targeted to have at least 80 per cent of Rwandans having a bank account by 2017.
The government launched Umurenge-SACCOs in 2009 with the mission of providing financial services to the country’s majority population of the rural poor.
Five years down the road, the financial coops have done a lot in achieving their targets, but issues remain in their performance according to different reports.
A report by the Office of the Ombudsman for the fiscal year 2013-2014 indicated that posed potential threats to the proper functionality of SACCOs include the continued increase in non-performing loans, the interference of local officials in the management of the SACCOs, the poor security provided during transport of funds, high interest rates at which they give loans, and dysfunctional boards of administration for the SACCOs.
During their tour, the legislators will meet and interact with the SACCOs’ clients and managers, as well as local officials.
Specifically, the MPs will assess how people at the grassroots level have been using the financial cooperatives, how the SACCOs are using ICTs to provide better services, how women are using the coops in comparison to men, and how the government has moved to tackle issues raised by the Ombudsman’s report for the fiscal year 2013-2014.