JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Debate on a Bill seeking to modernise the agricultural sector to meet the demands of increased food security and agricultural productivity began in the House of Representatives on April 12.
  • The Bill seeks to specifically repeal the Agricultural Credit Board Act, and to effect transfer of the relevant monitoring and inspection functions of the Agricultural Credit Board, in relation to the management of agricultural loan societies, to the Registrar of Co-operative Societies.
  • Debate on the Bill is to continue in the House of Representatives.

Debate on a Bill seeking to modernise the agricultural sector to meet the demands of increased food security and agricultural productivity began in the House of Representatives on April 12.

Piloting the Bill – The Agricultural Loan Societies and Approved Organisations Act – Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda, said the modernisation process involves streamlining certain functions performed by the Agricultural Credit Board, with a view to promoting efficiency.

“The streamlining process requires the dissolution of the Agricultural Credit Board and the transfer of the Board’s monitoring and regulatory functions to the Registrar of Co-operative Societies, which is reflected in the Agricultural Loan Societies and Approved Organisations Bill,” he said.

He noted that the Bill seeks to specifically repeal the Agricultural Credit Board Act, and to effect transfer of the relevant monitoring and inspection functions of the Agricultural Credit Board, in relation to the management of agricultural loan societies, to the Registrar of Co-operative Societies.

The Bill also provides for the establishment of the Agricultural Appeal Tribunal; and provides for the registration and regulation of the agricultural loan societies by or under the Registrar of Co-operative Societies, and the certification of approved organisations by the Minister.

Mr. Samuda said the Registrar will be keeping and maintaining a register containing details of the agricultural loan society, while at the same time amending, correcting or adding details to the register.

He also noted that the Registrar will consult with the Bank, in writing, prior to suspension or cancellation of an agricultural loan society or an approved organisation.

“This is in cases where an agricultural loan society or an approved organisation is funded in whole or in part by the Bank,” Mr. Samuda explained.

The Bill also outlines grounds for the Registrar to refuse to register, suspend or cancel a body as an agricultural loan society.

The Bill states that the Registrar shall keep separate accounts in respect of funds allocated to the agricultural loan society and approved organisation, and that the funds of the Registrar shall be deposited in the Consolidated Fund.

Meanwhile, the legislation provides for the exemption of agricultural loan societies and approved organisations (activities relating to agricultural loans) from paying stamp duty, and recording and registration fees in respect of deeds and certain other instruments.

“It also sets out the prohibition for employees or officers of the Bank from borrowing or receiving money as (a) gift from a society or organisation or stand surety for a borrower from a society or organisation without approval from the Registrar,” Mr. Samuda said.

Debate on the Bill is to continue in the House of Representatives.