KAMPALA– President Museveni has ordered National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to stop paying Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) activities using the workers’ savings.
Museveni made the directive during a meeting with a select committee of stake holders of the NSSF fund at State House Entebbe.
The meeting was attended by among others, the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, the Finance Minister Matia Kasaijja, NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba, Minister for Gender Labor and Social Development Betty Amongi, government Chief whip Thomas Tayebwa and Members of Parliament for workers and special interest groups.
During the meeting, stake holders expressed that they were disappointed with the way business was being run between Ministry of Finance and Uganda Retirements Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA).
The Members of Parliament said that they do not understand why URBRA should be taking Ugx 7Bn from NSSF money just to do regulation, saying that the money is not only too much but it should not be given to them.
The MPs also said that URBRA is a body that has been set up by Ministry of Finance to siphon money, recruiting their colleagues to the authority to partake of the workers’ money without doing anything.
In his reply, President Museveni noted that he was also wondering why a body constituted by government would be using money from workers to pay its employees.
“This is not a negotiation issue, it is about what can safe guard this money and URBRA should be paid by government not by workers money because it is URBRA is adding costs to workers, and when you create an agency, pay it, they should not take any other money from NSSF, they should remove all these people from workers money,” The President said.
President Museveni maintained that members of URBRA are not well vetted, further ordering that the authority should be completely restructured such that only those on merit are hired.
“People there are being recommended on friendship basis, this must stop and those who are in charge of workers’ money should have an experience and knowledge in managing money,” Mr Museveni said.
This was the final contentious issue between the workers representatives, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development that has delayed the passing of the NSSF bill.
The Bill will see contributors aged 45 and above have 20% mid-term access to their savings while the People living with disabilities will also access up to 50% of their savings if they are 40 years and above, have saved for ten years and are out of a job or are unemployable.
Mid-term access provides for additional benefits and relief to members of the Fund before they reach the age prescribed by the law. Section 12 of the NSSF Act was amended to provide for dual supervision of the Fund.
Ministry of Gender will be in charge of the social security arm of the Fund, which deals with the welfare of workers and their savings while Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development will supervise the Investment arm of the Fund, which deals with the business component where savings are invested in assets to generate income.
President Museveni had initially suggested supervision by the Bank of Uganda and the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development since they specialise in dealing with finances but BOU was ruled out technically.
On the issue of whether or not the Managing Director of NSSF who is an ex-official has a right to vote, the President agreed that the Managing Director can be a member but with no vote.
On the issue of mid-term access of 50% for persons with disabilities, President Museveni agreed with the proposal of people with disabilities of 40 years and above who have saved for ten years can access 50% of their savings mid-term but added that the law must be very clear on who is disabled.
The NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba said while they have no data on people with disabilities so as not to discriminate, the numbers are not significant and members can be paid, but according to the workers records, there are 2,000,000 people saving with NSSF and about 20,000 people are living with disabilities.
The NSSF fund has grown from a paltry Ugx 800 billion with less than 500,000 savers when the NRM government came into power in 1986 to a Ugx 17tn fund and over two million savers and growing making it one of the best on the continent.