KAMPALA – Parliament has resolved to set up a select committee to carry-out a thorough investigation about the activities of the National Social Security Fund – NSSF.
Speaker of Parliament, Anita Annet Among revealed on Thursday that the composition of membership on the planned Select Committee will be communicated during the plenary sitting on Monday.
Speaker Among made the statement on Thursday after the Minister of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, Betty Amongi had presented a statement on the emerging issues at NSSF.
The Minister’s statement followed a directive from Among – commanding that the line ministry makes its position clear on corruption allegations in the fund as contained a letter, which Amongi had authored. Amongi – acting within the powers invested in her, declined to reappointment Richard Byarugaba as the NSSF Managing Director when his contract expired in November 2022 – and of the reasons she raised pointed into the direction of corruption.
The NSSF Board led by Dr Peter Kimbowa had endorsed Byarugaba’s reappointment for another five-year term and Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja pushed Amongi to act as per the board.
Premier Nabbanja claimed that the delay woupd lead to managerial gaps – a situation that was likely to cause a risk onto the workers’ fund.
However, Amongi protested the move and instead called for an investigation into the former MD’s conduct while at the fund. She accused him of among others abuse of office and mismanagement of investments. She directed that investigations be conducted within two months in line with a resolution by the Board.
In the statement to Parliament, Amongi said that members’ funds was safe and invested in fixed assets, equities, and real estate.
She said that although President Yoweri Museveni and the NSSF Board had recommended the re-appointment of Byarugaba and his Deputy Patrick Ayota – a number of petitions had been presented to several authorities including the President, Prime Minister, the Coordinator of Operations Wealth Creation (OWC), the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and herself.
Amongi said that the petitions resulted in several stakeholder meetings including that she refers to in a letter dated December 7, 2022 addressed to the NSSF Board Chairperson, which prompted the board to refer issues raised to IGG for investigations.
The Speaker questioned Amongi why she had to go against the Board’s recommendation to have Byarugaba re-appointed. Amongi said that it was within her mandate to ensure that the petitions against the former Managing Director were first cleared.
The Minister said that investigations that required a forensic audit were referred to the Auditor General and those bordering on impropriety, abuse of office, or corruption were referred to the Inspectorate of Government, with a request that their findings be shared within 60 days.
Amongi also explained to parliament why she had, alongside the NSSF Board met the Coordinator of Operations Wealth Creation – OWC Gen Salim Saleh regarding the operations of the Fund.
“Suffice to clarify that the meeting I refer to, of the Board’s visit to meet Gen Salim Saleh in Kapeeka on December 6, 2022 had the intention of establishing how a private industrial park with a big number of workers can inform strategies for the Fund to enrol these as members and contributors of NSSF as well as other strategic issues in line with the mandate of the Fund,” explained the Minister.
Speaker Among asked the Minister to file all the letters she had written to the board and the President in regard to the appointment of the Managing Director.
Patrick Nsamba, the Kassanda North said that documents tabled by the Minister raised key issues that parliament should take interest in.
He said that reports earlier indicated that the failure on the side of Byarugaba to pay Ugx6b which the minister had requisitioned to allegedly to strategically grow the Fund, was the reason why the Minister declined to re-appoint him. But Amongi refuted the report.
The Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija declined to make any submission on the activities of NSSF – requesting parliament to submit his statement at a later date.