KAMPALA – The National Organisation of Trade Unions – NOTU has called for re-evaluation of the real estate investments of the National Social Security Fund – NSSF to suit the needs of the contributors.
Musa Okello – the NOTU acting Chairman General on Tuesday told the Select Committee investigating the alleged mismanagement of NSSF that the Ugx1.1trn investment in real estate business for the year ended 2021 was at risk because workers couldn’t afford the houses.
Okello said that the fund had constructed houses in Lubowa on Entebbe road with each costing approximately Ugx3b.
“For whom are these houses being built? These are supposed to be investments for contributors who cannot even save Ugx100m at the time of accessing their savings. There is a very high level of insensitivity to the needs of the workers,” reasoned Okello.
He urged the committee to recommend construction of affordable houses – saying it was the only sure way of making returns on investments while benefiting those who contribute to the fund.
Okello also asked the committee to investigate the nomination of the NSSF Board representatives from the Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions – COFTU – accusing them of self-selection.
“Illegal representation on the board is true because members of COFTU indulge in self-nomination. There is an illegality, which needs to be corrected,” he said.
In response to the need for re-evaluation of NSSF investment plan, Fortunate Nantongo – the Kyotera district Woman MP wondered how investments were implemented – yet NOTU had representation on the board.
“How are these investments initiated and who is in charge? NOTU is part of the board and my thinking is that the union is consulted,” wondered Nantongo.
Karim Masaba – the Mbale Industrial Division representative encouraged the NOTU Board representatives to always pay keen interest in the NSSF investment audited accounts.
“Since you say Ugx1trn is at risk, do you see the NSSF audited accounts,” he asked.
Committee Chairperso – Mwine Mpaka questioned the role of NOTU in the governance of NSSF – saying such decisions were made by the board.
The NOTU Secretary General, Richard Bigirwa on the other hand said NSSF needed to improve on compliance – saying that the fund has fallen short of ensuring workers’ contributions were remitted by employers.
“We have received complaints where employers deduct money from employees but do not remit to NSSF. We also have information which shows that some organisations have it on record that they employ over 500 staff but less than 100 contribute to NSSF because majority are categorised as casual labourers,” he said.
Bigirwa added that NSSF also needed to address the issue of suspense accounts, where employees are not registered as contributors but accounts are opened in their names and money remitted to such accounts.
Amos Kankunda – the Rwampara County representative, however, advised NOTU to keep abreast with the number of workers who contribute to NSSF and the status of their savings.
“Is the union conversant with the number of savers and do you have monthly updates on the status of the savings. You need to get these details from employers,” he said.
The on-going investigations were sanctioned during a parliamentary sitting on January 19 2023 – where the House resolved to institute a committee to inquire into the operations of NSSF following reports of corruption and mismanagement of the Ugx17.9trn.
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