Published:  12:52 AM, 11 July 2019

Cooperatives a neglected sector all the time: Jonas Dhaki

Cooperatives a neglected sector all the time: Jonas Dhaki Chairman of the Cooperative Credit Union League of Bangladesh Ltd (CCULB) and Freedom Fighter Jonas Dhaki speaking at his office at Vatara of Gulshan in the city recently. -AA

Cooperative credit unions have been working for the betterment of the poor and lower income people of the country. Over 1030 small and big unions are in operation across the country under the leadership of The Cooperative Credit Union League of Bangladesh Ltd (CCULB), the umbrella organization of cooperative credit unions.

Currently, more than six lakh families are involved in the credit union movement, through which they have attained economic solvency with small savings. The accumulated fund raised by little savings has stood at Tk 30 billion (3,000 crore). 

Freedom Fighter Jonas Dhaki, chairman of the Cooperative Credit Union League of Bangladesh Ltd (CCULB), recently talked to The Asian Age about perspective of cooperatives unions in the country.

Jonas Dhaki said, the cooperatives sector have been neglected since the very beginning though the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave cooperative ownership the second priority after government ownership in the Constitution of 1972.

But it is matter of great regret that present government has attached priority to individual ownerships and provided different incentives for their development sidelining the government ownership and cooperative ownership. 

About the activities of organizations, he said, "Launched in 1955, CCULB, as cooperative-based financial institution in Bangladesh, is such an organization, where members are the owner of the cooperative society (somity).

In the budget for fiscal 2019-20, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal slapped 15 percent tax on the incomes of cooperatives.

Demanding the withdrawal of tax on cooperatives, Jonas Dhaki said, the umbrella organization of cooperative credit unions in the country, said, 'Imposing 15 percent tax on cooperatives will seriously hinder the economic development of the poor and lower income section of the society. The tax will discourage the poor and lower-income people to save their earnings. Income tax will be a burden and frustrate the cooperative members.'

CCULB President said, the earnings of the cooperatives saw no tax imposition before 2015. According to section 22 of the Finance Bill placed by former Finance Minister AMA Muhith imposed 15 percent tax on the incomes of Cooperative organizations on May 4, 2015. But tax imposition was scrapped the subsection 1A,B,C and D of Article 47 of Income Tax Ordinance, 1984.

'In according to the provisions of Cooperative Society Act 2001 (amended in 2013) Section 34, cooperatives have to appropriates 38 percent of their income including 15 percent on reserved fund, 10 percent on provision on bad debts, 3 percent on development of cooperative and 10 percent on various purposes. With the imposition of another 15 percent tax on income it will be 53 percent.

After paying all the taxes only a little profit will remain for the cooperatives to distributeamong its members. Thus the rate of sharing profits has become lower on cooperative credit unions compared to other financial institutions," he further said.

In this situation, members will losing interest to little saving and investment, decreases the profit sharing rate to the members and hinders the development of cooperative movement.

Hailing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for providing full responsibility to State Minister, he said, "The government has nothing to refer about the cooperatives sector in the country. Though, our constitution made the cooperative ownership as second among three type ownerships."

In 1977, as a pioneer in the cooperatives sector Jonas Dhaki founded Bornaly Co-operative Society.  He became the member of the CCULB in 1987 and become chairman for the first time in 1999 and continued three terms in a row. Now, he serves as the president for the fourth time in the   CCULB.

He also served the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU), the Asian regional based representative organization of credit cooperatives/unions and similar cooperative financial organizations, for six years as first vice-president, second vice-president and secretary respectively.

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