Civil Society calls for the amendment of the NSSF Act

Published By UNNGOF |  September 10, 2014

As part of the CSO-Parliament interface, a CSO reflection on the retirement benefits sector liberalization bill was held on Tuesday 19th August, at Hotel Africana. The meeting was organized in partnership with UJCC, UDN, DRT, PLA, CSBAG, and NOTU and with support from NDI. The purpose of the meeting was to accord an opportunity to CSOs to give their views about the bill. The meeting was attended by 38 people including representatives from civil society, Uganda Retirements Benefits Regulatory Authority, professional bodies and private sector.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Richard Ssewakiryanga the Executive Director of Uganda National NGO Forum  noted that the Government of Uganda is undertaking a number of reforms in the retirement benefits sector aimed at improving the administration of the sector and to provide a policy and legal framework to grow retirement savings. He pointed out that reforms started with the establishment the Uganda Retirements Regulatory Authority as an oversight and regulatory body for the sector and consultations are also ongoing on the proposed retirement benefits liberalization bill. Lastly, he challenged civil society to ensure passing of a good law that will protect the interests of all Ugandans.

Speaking on behalf of the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority, Mr. Moses Bekabye-the Chief Executive Officer gave an over view of the retirement benefits liberalization bill and he noted that the overall objective of the bill is to create a robust and efficient pension system that will ensure a minimum social safety net for the elderly, encourage retirement savings by building trust and confidence in the sector as well as increasing private savings in the economy to provide long term development finance. He pointed out that reforms in the sector will include; establishing a regulatory framework, introduce competition and reform the public service pension scheme.

Ms. Lillian Keane Mugerwa- the Executive Director of Platform for Labour Action pointed out the issue of political crisis which is associated with liberalization. She cautioned participants on the confusion about liberalization in the current form where NSSF is working alongside some pension schemes which are not mentioned in the bill.

She proposed an audit and investigation of the current mismanagement of NSSF and amendment of NSSF Act.

Mr. Werikhe Peter- Secretary General of NOTU while in his presentation noted that the confusion around the bill requires a thorough analysis before CSOs can take a position on the bill. He argued that, where as the URBRA is in place with all instruments of power, NSSF is mismanaged and is silent about it. He wondered how one can trust the same Authority with a number of pension managers in a liberalized sector yet it is failing to control NSSF. He asked participants to take a thorough analysis of the economist and IMF approach fronted by URBRA in the management of pension.

The two re-knowned labour   organizations proposed for the inclusion of the informal sector workers in the bill, amendment of NSSF Act, empowerment and independence of URBRA from Government, clear definition of the benefits in the bill and inclusion of maternal related issues and how it affects the employers and employees.

In a plenary session, participants gave their comments on the bill and expressed the concern of divergent views by key players like URBRA and NOTU and yet the two were given the mandate to consult widely on the bill and give a position to the Minister of Finance. Participants also expressed concern on the status of the bill which is not known and lack of clarity on the true version of the bill. Participants recommended the need to have a clear position on the bill as CSOs clearly stating the areas for improvement in the bill, urgent amendment of the NSSF Act and a clear position between PLA and NOTU as key players on labour related issues in the country.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Osborn Simon- Country Director NDI appreciated Uganda National NGO Forum and its partners for taking a collective approach in influencing policy making processes in the country especially on a critical sectors such as pension and as such promised to continue supporting the process to ensure that CSOs come up with a collective position on the bill.