Parliament defers consideration of the NSSF (Amendment) Bill, 2019 over the mid-term access to benefits
Parliament has deferred the debate on the proposed mid-term access to benefits by contributors to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) after the lawmakers failed to agree on the persons and percentage that should be able to benefit on the same.
In a Plenary sitting on Thursday 17th September 2020 the Speaker guided that the House stands over the decision to allow MPs more time to harmonize their positions after they had failed to agree on a common position on the matter.
“There are certain areas of commonality either to have the status quo of waiting until the age of 50 or the proposal of the partial access to the vote, which isn’t well known until it’s agreed upon here. The contention is that either there is access or not,” said Kadaga.
The debate on mid-term access to benefits by contributors to the NSSF originates from the Committee’s report of Finance and Gender which proposes that members aged above 45 and have saved for at least 10 years, be allowed to access 20 per cent of their benefits.
The report further proposes that mid-term access provides for additional benefits and relief to members of the Fund before they reach the age prescribed by the law.
Bulamogi County MP, Hon Kenneth Lubogo on Wednesday 16th September 2020 tabled a minority report to the Committee’s report of Finance and Gender.
The report proposes that members who lose their employment and remain unemployed for a period of not less than three years should upon application be entitled to 40 per cent of the balance on the member’s account.
MP William Nzoghu equally during the Plenary session presented a motion for members to access 20 per cent of their savings in light of the economic distress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that it Is unfair for NSSF members to die of hunger and their savings are left to be enjoyed by the dependents”
“ NSSF has 1.5m members who contribute over 1.8 trillion in savings annually and that the fund has over 11.2 trillion in assets. Availing members with their savings will help lessen the negative impact of COVID19 to over 1.5 million households. ” Said Nzoghu.
The legislators equally failed to agree on the Ministry responsible to supervise the NSSF fund. Despite efforts by the Minister of Gender, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze and Minister of State for Planning, Hon David Bahati emphasize governments position to be adopted, the matter was strongly opposed by some of the members.
“NSSF has always been mismanaged and it’s supervision cannot be left to the Ministry of Finance. Hon. Nzoghu argues that the Ministry of Finance cannot supervise an agency it borrows funds from.” Said Cecilia Ogwal.
The NSSF is currently managed by the Ministry of Finance despite its relation to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Parliament also rejected the clause that proposed direct lending by the NSSF to the government. This followed the committee’s recommendation that this was intended to avoid abuse of member’s funds and conflict of interest.
Kadaga ruled that the consideration of the bill will continue on Wednesday, 23 September 2020.