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International Day of Co-operatives 2016 This year's International Day of Co-operatives's slogan is "Co-operatives: The power to act for a sustainable future". 

This theme was chosen to highlight the large role co-operatives play in promoting the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals of ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality, and fixing climate change over the next 15 years. Co-operative principles and development methods have been shown to alleviate poverty, promote equality and focus on the environment. 

The day will be celebrated on Saturday, July 2nd, in Nakaseke, hosted by the Uganda Meat Producers Co-operative Union. Co-operatives, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives and other co-operative partners will gather together to celebrate the co-operative movement in Uganda, its achievements and promote co-operative culture. The events on the day will include an awards ceremony, exhibitions by co-operatives and partners in the industry, and entertainment.

Uganda Central Co-operative Financial Services will be a leading member of the celebrations, holding an exhibition on the day and taking part in planning committees.

Daily Monitor has recently reported that the government's previous pledge to write-off tax arrears of SACCOs comes because they plan to put on a new focus on collecting taxes from SACCO profits. There has always been a tax on profitable income of SACCOs (income generated from interest for example), but many SACCOs in Uganda did not know about the law; therefore, they have not been paying the taxes. The government says it will forget the past arrears accumulated from SACCOs because of the lack of knowledge, but will begin collecting in earnest in the next year.

Government wants all SACCOs to start paying tax. As an incentive to encourage them to start paying tax, government has decided to waive all tax arrears owed by SACCOs as at December 31 2015. The proposal contained in the Finance Bill 2016, means SACCOs who have outstanding tax liabilities to pay do not have to worry about these tax arrears any more.

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is going to write them off as uncollectable bad debts. The fact that government has found it necessary to write off all tax arrears owed by SACCOs should now be taken as a clear policy statement to all SACCOs in Uganda that as far as URA is concerned, SACCOs are supposed to pay tax.

SACCOs in Uganda are owned, governed and managed by members who have the same common bond. They are legal bodies registered under the Cooperative Societies Act. SACCOs are economic institutions involved in business activities for purposes of making a profit to grow, survive and become sustainable.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has injected $159m (Shs527b), towards revamping over 40,000 cooperative unions scattered across Uganda to make them viable businesses.

Speaking at the launch of the programme last week, Mr Jo Lesser Oltheten, the director economic growth at the US mission in Kampala, said that the term ‘farmers cooperatives’ would be renamed to ‘producer organisations’ over the five-year span of the project. The change is intended to scale them up to strong businesses which will create market linkages for member farmers dealing in maize, coffee and beans and enable them benefit from extension services, market linkages, good governance and proper management of the organisations.

“We want to build linkages where we have an alliance of agricultural businesses working with the farmers’ federation, civil society organisations, funding agencies and research institutions,” she said, adding that part of the activities will involve addressing the issue of in-put supplies and post-harvest handling.

The project is working with UN agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Food Programme to ensure that there is food security in the country to reduce hunger and poverty.