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Sunday,October 25,2020 08:59 AM

Liberalise pension sector immediately

By Vision Reporter

Added 31st August 2009 03:00 AM

EDITOR—If power indeed belongs to the people, those people do not include the Ugandan workers who contribute to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

EDITOR—If power indeed belongs to the people, those people do not include the Ugandan workers who contribute to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

EDITOR—If power indeed belongs to the people, those people do not include the Ugandan workers who contribute to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

I have read Amon Mbekiza’s letter, “Uganda’s workers are on their own” published yesterday and could not agree with him more. Nobody is going to speak for the workers of this country because those who would do so are not part of us. We know what MPs earn and what allowances and privileges they have. Such people can only remember when their term in Parliament has expired or about to expire.

They are very safe and don’t belong to NSSF, never mind that they are the people who make laws. Apparently, what is good for the goose is not good enough for the gander! President Museveni the other day said he would start walking with handcuffs but it must have been an idle joke because Uganda is teeming with thieves under his very nose.

The matter of NSSF has gone too far. It is not right to call the deductions that NSSF gobbles down ‘social security’. It is social insecurity. How do you consume the principal and the interest in a business transaction and imagine that you are an investor? Because of the mismanagement of NSSF, the interest rate has been cut from 14% to 3%!! What is the inflation rate in Uganda today and what is the purpose of the deductions?

How can we save by losing our money? Pension in Uganda is supposed to be liberalised and the process should have started a long time ago. What is the pensions minister doing about it and why is she dragging her feet?

Why was NSSF transferred to Finance? Disbanding NSSF does not seem to be in the interests of the powers that be because people in high places have found NSSF money easy to pick as and when they want! That is the only reason nobody is keen to have pension liberalised. But for how long must we be held at ransom and live like economic slaves in our own country?

How do other countries run their pension schemes? Is it a divine commandment that employees must save with NSSF? The NSSF Act must be repealed because we have had enough nonsense from thieves who rob us in broad daylight with the full knowledge of the Government and protection by the law!

We are disenfranchised and have nobody to talk for us! We had better talk for ourselves. Can’t the NSSF Act be challenged in a court of law and have it repealed if those benefiting from it are not willing to countenance it? I am 35 years old. What will be left of my ‘savings’ in 20 years’ time having ‘saved’ at a loss for so long?

Everybody knows the unfairness of the NSSF Act but because only about 400,000 people are affected, nobody is bothered! The principle of saving for the future is perfect but clearly NSSF is a den of thieves. My sister used to work for an employer who had refused to save with NSSF and was saving with an insurance company.

The workers were earning handsome dividends and were very happy until the draconian NSSF Act reared its ugly head and the company was forced to start saving with NSSF. The workers were paid what had so far been saved and that marked the end of the success story. Does democracy and ‘fundamental change’ mean making citizens slaves in their own country?

Enough is enough. The Government does not own a shilling in NSSF and has sold off almost all its parastatals. What legal right does it have over our money? The pension sector must be liberalised now and not tomorrow!

Name withheld

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EDITOR – I have been contributing to NSSF since 1999. Today, NSSF has 404,028 contributors. I am concerned that the over sh20b court award to Alcon is going to be paid by contributions and investment proceeds of all 404,028 contributors. Is it not only fair that this court award is subtracted from contributions of those who were members of the fund when the liability arose in 1998?

Why does this have to affect even those who joined after the liability accrued? Are all members of the fund jointly and severally liable to liabilities accrued by the fund regardless of when one became a contributor? If I start earning interest on my savings effective from when I joined, why don’t we apply the same principle to liabilities accrued?

As a result of NSSF mismanagement, members’ interest will be slashed to 3%! What is the effect of NSSF declaring a 14% interest and then a few months down the road rescinding it? Section 35 of the NSSF Act appears to create some kind of legal obligation to pay the declared interest.

The Act requires the minister of Finance to declare the interest only after consulting with the board. So, did the minister consult the board? If so, did the board advise the minister of the Alcon contingent liability, as it then was? Was this interest declared rightly as envisaged under Section 35? Perhaps, in public interest, we should seek legal redress to have some of the concerns raised here addressed.

NSSF is useless and continues to disappoint us with its ineptitude and reckless expenditure on public relations to ‘clean up’ its image which is beyond redemption. Madam Finance Minister, when will the pension sector be liberalised so that we can join other funds which have accountable managers and where our savings will be safe from scavenging vultures?

Moses Mwase
Kampala

Liberalise pension sector immediately

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