Uganda: Museveni rejects move to split NSSF

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President Museveni. FILE PHOTO  

By DAMALI MUKHAYE

President Museveni has rejected a proposal to split oversight over the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), saying it should be placed wholly under the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
In July last year, the Cabinet chaired by President Museveni passed proposals to amend the NSSF Act of 1985.

In the NSSF Amendment Bill 2019, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development is proposed to be in charge of social security policy and compliance in NSSF while the Finance ministry would oversee its investments.
However, in a separate letter that Daily Monitor has seen and addressed to the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, President Museveni indicates that the full control of NSSF must be transferred to the Finance ministry.

“The Rt Hon Speaker, as you are aware, in September 2004, I directed the transfer of NSSF from Ministry of Gender to the Ministry of Planning. The main reason for this is that the Ministry of Planning is the specialised government agency to oversee the management of such large funds. The ministry also has capacity to review NSSF decisions and ensure that they are sound business-wise and free of corruption. I re-affirm my earlier decision on this matter,” Mr Museveni wrote in part in his October 4 letter.

“I do not agree with the proposal in the NSSF Amendment Bill of 2019 to split the oversight mandate of the NSSF under two government agencies, where the management of the Fund would be under the purview of the minister responsible for Finance, and policy matters of NSSF under minister of Gender. The proposed arrangements would cause delays in decision-making and create loopholes for corruption,” the letter reads.

President Museveni asked Parliament to streamline oversight over NSSF under the Ministry of Finance in the ongoing amendments of the NSSF law.
Fresh fights, however, erupted yesterday after MPs sitting on both committees (of Gender and Planning learnt about this letter that was written way back in 2019 through the State minister for Finance, Mr David Bahati.
Mr Bahati confirmed that the letter was written by President Museveni and that as Cabinet, they abide by the same letter.

The President’s position was, however, not made known to most MPs who said they have never seen the letter and were hearing about it for the first time.
The committee members had converged to discuss the amendments of NSSF Bill that would also allow mid-term access to the finances by the savers before attaining the age of 55 years, but members failed to agree on the letter and referred it back to Ms Kadaga.
MPs also said this letter was not officially addressed to them, so Ms Kadaga should explain the gaps in information.
The MPs were also split on this letter with majority, saying the Ministry of Gender must control NSSF while others insisted it should be under the Finance ministry.

Views of MPs
Ms Margaret Rwabushaija, the Workers MP, said NSSF is a fund for workers and cannot be managed by the Ministry of Finance.
“The Fund is for workers who contribute to it, why should the control of this fund be under the ministry of Finance rather than the worker’s ministry. In my opinion, this Fund should be under the ministry of Gender unless otherwise,’’ Ms Rwabushaija said.
Mr Morris Kibaara, the Bugabula South MP, said all issues that affect workers across the country are handled by the Ministry of Gender.
“Why is the ministry of Finance dying to control this fund? The Gender Committee in Parliament conducted consultations and majority of workers agreed that their fund must be under Ministry of Gender.
“What is the secret behind this new twist of leaving everything to the Finance ministry?” Mr Kibaara asked.

Mr Kenneth Lubogo, the Bulamogi County MP in Kaliro District, said the Ministry of Gender should not be completely locked out of NSSF because NSSF funds are private funds contributed by workers and not appropriated by Parliament.
“Being a big fund, the ministry of finance should also have a role to guide on the application of the funds as it is done in Ghana. Remember we have one government so the two ministries can work together,” Mr Lubogo said.
Ms Agnes Kwinihira, the vice chairperson of Gender Committee, said the two committees had agreed on joint ownership of NSSF, but now another letter suggesting the opposite had emerged.
She said both committees must go back and consult the Speaker.

Those supporting the President
Meanwhile, Mr Patrick Isiagi, the vice chairperson of the Finance Committee, said he okayed the proposal of President Museveni having the Ministry of Finance control the fund since it has more knowledge as far as financial modeling is concerned.
“NSSF has to do with financial modeling and investment portfolios, which I think can be well managed by the ministry of Finance. This fund needs good financial managers to do the investment, something which cannot be done by the Ministry of Gender,” Mr Isiagi said.
He, however, said they are waiting for the decision from the Speaker of Parliament, asserting that they are resuming the meeting again today.
background
This is not the first time fights on ownership of NSSF is erupting. Since the proposal to amend this Bill was reached last year, the two ministries started fighting over control of its ownership.
Workers in December last year petitioned President Museveni protesting the Ministry of Finance plans to solely control this Fund.

Source Daily Monitor.

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