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NSSF savers should have options of accessing money

John is one of the employees who was recently informed by his human resource manager that his services are no longer required.

The company has lost all its business due to the Covid-19 lockdown. In the letter terminating his employment, he was told that he will be paid for the days he has worked this month. He was told he will also be given a certificate of good conduct and a recommendation letter to help him in his search for a job.

John is the firstborn in his family. With his job, John has been able to look after his ailing mother who needs medication, pay school fees for his siblings, and look after his family. He almost saves nothing as transport costs, housing, medical and education leave him with almost nothing.

He was a dedicated worker but like many of his colleagues at work, the company has lost so much business that the owner has decided to send everyone home. It is sad! With the economy in freefall, John cannot even start looking for a job. He spends the night awake wondering how to make rent and pay for all his expenses.

In his circles, everyone is either at home or not sure for how long they will have a job. John was an active member of his local church but with no fellowships, his networking is now simply limited to his phone. Soon, buying data will be a problem. His dreams of a life where he can look after his family are now disappearing faster than the morning mist.

For the years John has been in employment, he has been saving with NSSF and he has Shs 20m. It is a huge amount of money for him, access to it could help during this difficult time. NSSF will not entertain him because there is no legal framework to pay him or so they say.

The NSSF Act was made in 1985 when more than 75 per cent of Uganda’s population was not yet born! He can wait until he is 50 without a job or 55. That is 10-15 years away. So, what is the purpose of saving? What is the purpose of social security? In fact, what is social security? There are many Johns out there.

Those with enough resources are quick to scourge him for not saving.

“NSSF only takes 5 per cent of your money. What were you doing with the 95 per cent?” they quickly demonize him. “Next time learn to save your money,” says a man who works in a government ministry and earns Shs 800,000 a month but lives in the house the size of Acacia Mall. “People should learn to work smart,” he volunteers more advice.

John was actually saving his money. He is very frugal. For the time he was employed, he only boarded the taxi to work. He always walked his way home so that every shilling is saved. He does not drink alcohol and does not have any side dish. But without social services such as education and health to write home about, he is not left with anything at the end of the day.

He looks with disdain at those who tell him to wait until he is 50 years old and unemployed or at 55 to get his money saved with NSSF.

“What is the use of that money if I can’t look after my family? Will I ever live up to 50?” he asks but there are no answers.

There is an ongoing debate to allow people access to a portion of their money saved with NSSF with a figure of 20 per cent thrown around. I think it is the wrong debate. People who save money anywhere should have options to access it. If somebody fixes money with a bank, for example, they can access it at any time although they will pay a penalty, but they have a say on when to get it.

People also have a say in which bank to save their money. If Bank A is crazy, they go to Bank B or Bank C. They have options and the terms always different. Like we have seen everywhere in the world, monopolies behave as worse as brutal dictators.

NSSF needs to have competition. What the government needs to push is that people are saving and open NSSF up to the competition. They will become more concerned about their savers than considering themselves as savers of Uganda’s economy.

John who saves with NSSF has no job but the people who manage his money are assured of their jobs — to manage his savings! Apparently, he will need it in old age. NSSF tells us that the majority of those who retire and get their money waste it within the first three years of getting it. That calls for reforms.


The writer is a communication and visibility consultant.


0 #1 KITIMBO JOEL 2020-05-26 15:39
Even when you look at the conditions they want to give out this money on are not realistic, in Uganda after University you can not get a Job in that ur able to save with NSSF unless ur well connected, its untill your 35years!

We work for Chinese on Commission and by the End of the month your earning 50,000/= or less after chopping late coming money of 1min late worth 2,000/= to 5,000/= per day, if NSSF is a social security fund organization let everyone receive the 20% and the rest will be worked on later.
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0 #2 Herbert Mwambu 2020-05-26 17:34
Indeed Mr.Jjuuko, you have done well informing us what many of us the NSSF savers are going through; just as John is.

NSSF must know that social security is like food security! during times of harvest, people keep some food in "ebyagyi" and resort to it when hunger strikes.

It defeats our understanding when Mr. Byaruhanga- MD NSSF is against paying 20% yet he says NSSF is the largest Fund in EAC, collecting Ugx110bn and paying out Ugx 50 bn monthly.

Surely NSSF can earmark Ugsh 30bn monthly of the collections to pay 11,539 savers monthly; 20% of the average savings Ugx 13m which is just Ugx 2.6m.

In a year, 139,000 savers will have been paid, that is 34 percent of 405,000 out of 1.5m savers, whom i assume will be eligible to cash-in. Those who have saved for at least 10 years regardless of their age now. NSSF must know that savers are supreme and their plight takes precedence over other stakeholders
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0 #3 Jimmy 2020-05-27 03:00
with all, that's going Mr. Byaruhanga deserves a vote of no confidence and I think he needs to resign if he acts with so much impunity towards people who are purportedly his bosses.

this is so unfortunate For God and my country
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0 #4 Thomaso 2020-05-27 22:30
People are not considerate.

Giving 20%to those who have saved for more than 14yrs won't help instead money is directed to the those who have money already so they will not bother about this money yet other people are dying.

Think of this a private school teacher or any other person whom since February he/ she has not got anything and the lockdown got him/her in town with all the family members.Relief food only in Kampala City not in any town.lt's painful.

Let this 20% be access by all members.
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0 #5 Baluku Edgar 2020-05-28 08:38
Byarugaba should resign,in such trying moment you refuse for peopes'money
,he is being inhuman to savers
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-2 #6 Anecho 2020-05-28 11:47
Thanks Jjuuko.
Just to the point. How I wish all the stakeholders get to read this powerful and to the point reasonings from You.
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0 #7 Lukwago Andrew 2020-05-30 18:22
But to realistic this is the time where we need use our benefits after a harder time husle with hard work.atleast 20% is not to much considering to the a mount with nssf this is the most hardest time we experiencing to be in lockdown for 3months with out working is tooo much.

we are in kampala but no even a single piece of posho hahaha FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY.
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0 #8 julius 2020-06-01 17:16
thank you Juuko for an eye-opener message!
am so disappointed with the new conditions mps are giving for the amendments in the old NSSF act which don't make sense!

it's like mps are being bribed to make the new amendments complicated! l just can't imagine NSSF Donating huge money to COVID-19 task force without even consulting us the savers but when we are desperately in need of our savings for survival they can't help us!
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