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Parliament goes on recess without passing the NSSF Bill

By Moses Mulondo

Added 25th October 2020 06:35 PM

Speaker Kadaga did not indicate when Parliament would be recalled.

Parliament goes on recess without passing the NSSF Bill

There is a disagreement on whether the percentage of savings to be accessed under the mid-term provision should be set by Parliament or left to the NSSF board.

Speaker Kadaga did not indicate when Parliament would be recalled.

PARLIAMENT|NSSF|BILL

Parliament has once again gone on recess without passing the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Amendment Bill. Most of the 29 clauses in the Bill were passed by Parliament and what remains is the passing of only two clauses, which were stood overdue to disagreements.

On Wednesday, Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga sent the MPs back into recess in order for them to engage in campaigns for re-election. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for January 14, 2021.

The Speaker did not indicate when Parliament would be recalled.

Contentious clauses

The two contentious clauses holding the passing of the Bill include one regarding which ministry should be in charge of NSSF. Although some MPs wanted NSSF to be under the gender ministry, the President and Cabinet resolved that it remains under the finance ministry where it has been for the last 10 years.

There is also a disagreement on whether the percentage of savings to be accessed under the mid-term provision should be set by Parliament or left to the NSSF board.

Workers representatives want Parliament to fix the minimum and maximum ceiling.

Workers' MP Sam Lyomoki has on several occasions camped in Parliament's chambers to demand the passing of the NSSF Bill.

Following the COVID-19 lockdown, there was pressure for NSSF to pay all its subscribers 20% of their savings to cushion them against the financial hardships.

However, the joint gender and finance committee that handled the Bill reached a compromise position of providing for mid-term access of 20% for members who have reached the age of 45 or those who have saved with NSSF for a minimum of 10 years.

Initially, the NSSF executive director, Richard Byarugaba, appeared to be in agreement with the mid-term access.

However, lately, he has been in the media arguing that the 20% mid-term access would require the NSSF to liquidate some of its assets to raise the money required to pay its subscribers.

Bulamogi County MP  Kenneth Lubogo had also presented a proposal to Parliament to insert another clause in the Bill to provide for an NSSF subscriber who remains unemployed for over a year to access 45% of his or her savings to enable him or her start an income-generating venture. This was rejected.

The original Bill only provided mid-term access for only the voluntary savers.

In August, President Yoweri Museveni held a meeting with the parliamentary committee that handled the Bill. He called for more consultations on the proposed mid-term access.

During a sitting of Parliament on October 7, Kadaga put the blame for the delayed passing of the Bill on the gender minister.

"Parliament is ready to pass the NSSF Bill. The gender minister is responsible for this Bill, but he is not here," the Speaker stated.

What workers say 

Responding to the news of Parliament going back into recess without passing the Bill, the chairman of the National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU), Wilson Usher Owere, said: "Workers are very disappointed with the Executive and Parliament for being insensitive to the demands of Ugandan workers. For Parliament to go back into recess without passing a Bill with only two unpassed clauses is an indication that workers' issues are not prioritised."

Jinja-based Titus Madira from the Allied Construction and Building Workers' Union argued that the delayed passing of the Bill for more than a year is an indication that the Government is not concerned about the interests and aspirations of workers. 

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