KAMPALA – Legislators representing workers in Uganda’s Parliament have called for a reputable international audit firm to carry out a value-for-money review of the National Social Security Fund – NSSF.
MPs – Margaret Rwabushaija, Abdul Byakatonda Arinaitwe Rwakajara and Agnes Kunihira, made the proposal on Wednesday while appearing before the Select Committee – investigating the management of NSSF.
Rwakajara asked the committee to pick interest in finding out how the Ugx100b collected monthly by NSSF was invested.
“We need an international audit firm, which cannot be compromised. As a committee, you need to pick a lot of interest and make sure this probe does not end up like a show. I am saying this because I had experience with NSSF when I was a board member,” noted Rwakajara.
He said that there were instances where the management of the fund deliberately delayed investments affecting savers interest earnings.
“If it takes a month without investing this money, what does this money do? NSSF issue is very serious and sensitive. Investigations should be focused on real numbers. A day missed means a loss and yet we need return on investments,” added Rwakajara.
Kunihira urged the committee to look into NSSF’s investments in real estate – saying that it was to blame for the alleged corruption scandals in the fund.
In the year ended 2021, NSSF invested Ugx1.1trn in real estate – and according to Kunihira, such money was easy to mismanage.
“That is where money exchanges hands. We always find issues with real estate investments and yet in other investments, there are no fights,” said Kunihira.
She added that the challenges faced by the fund are caused by the bickering between the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, following the Amendment of the NSSF Act.
The law paved way for dual supervision of the fund, with the Ministry of Finance being in charge of investment under the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority – URBRA while the Gender Ministry is in charge of social protection.
According to Kunihira, the finance ministry is dissatisfied with the law and wants sole supervision of the fund.
“It is a smear campaign; NSSF challenges are not as bad as portrayed in the media,” she noted.
Committee member, Charles Bakkabulindi urged his colleagues to consider introducing amendments to the NSSF Act to redefine the mandate of URBRA on the board.
The committee chairperson, Mwine Mpaka tasked the Workers Representatives to tackle the complaint on the suspense accounts.
“This account is supposed to have money from people who have not claimed and those who have died and it is a lot. Have you heard from workers that there is money being taken by NSSF staff? There is a rumour that people are forging national identifications and claiming money in suspense accounts,” said Mwine Mpaka.