MPs question NSSF's lack of funds for midterm access

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has said that it has no money available for lump sum payments if parliament passes the NSSF Amendment Bill.

This was disclosed by the fund’s managing director Richard Byarugaba last week while meeting MPs on the Gender, Labour and Social Development committee. Last month, the speaker of parliament, Jacob Oulanyah gave the committee 10 days to scrutinize the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Amendment Bill 2021.   

The 10th parliament passed the NSSF bill allowing for midterm access by savers above 45 years or at least those who have saved for 10 years. However, President Museveni didn’t assent to the bill until the expiry of the 10th parliament. He returned the bill to the speaker, saying parliament needed to amend the commencement date of the Act so that it comes into force on the date of its publication in the gazette.

He also noted that only people above 45 years old and have saved for over 10 years can access 20 per cent of their savings, saying anything else would be unsustainable for the fund. The president also disagreed with the proposal in the bill allowing persons living with disabilities to access up to 75 per cent of their savings.

Byarugaba told the MPs that the fund is unable to pay members because all of their money is invested. He said that this year they were planning to pay Shs 932 billion to members, but if the bill is passed, they will need to pay Shs 1.8 trillion for only this year.

He said that they may need to pay members in a staggered manner, prioritizing those in most urgent need of the money. According to Byarugaba, NSSF currently has investments in the East African Community including money lent to the government in bonds.

He explained that of NSSF’s total asset value of Shs 15.6 trillion, Shs 2.7 trillion is invested in the Kenyan bonds, Shs 1.4 trillion in Tanzania bonds, Shs 7.6 trillion in Uganda and Shs 28 billion with the Rwandan government.   

MPs questioned if NSSF was in reality a social security fund since members are struggling to access their savings. Flavia Kalule the Woman MP Kassanda district tasked the officials to explain why they do not have enough money and yet members save with the fund every month. 

Harold Muhindo the Bukonzo East MP questioned the rationale of the fund giving money to the members when they are incapable of utilizing it especially when they have died or are too old.

Florence Asiimwe, the Woman MP Masindi district says an assessment should be carried out on how many people want to access their money. Allan Mayanja the MP Nakaseke South said Ugandans are in distress and should access their funds.

Among other proposals in the bill includes employees making additional payments over and above their mandatory contribution, individual contribution to the fund and the NSSF board making investment decisions instead of hiring experts.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd