Conflicting information and change in wording regarding the National Social Security (Amendment) bill forced President Yoweri Museveni to push a major decision on the workers' mid-term access to their savings for another two weeks.
“Let us give ourselves two weeks and conclusively solve this matter. I want to be clear with the figures. I am going to do my own research. Let us meet on August 4th,” the President said.
His decision followed a long meeting during which workers representatives including Peter Werikhe, Usher Owere, Charles Bakabulindi and COFTU representative Dr. Sam Lyomoki said while they had agreed with the NSSF that only workers who are 45 years and have saved for 10 years be allowed mid-term access of 20 percent of their savings, they were shocked to learn that the wording had changed to 45 years or 10 years savings.
The meeting was also attended by representatives from the Ministry of Finance led by Minister Matia Kasaijja, the MD of NSSF Richard Byarugaba, members of NOTU [National Organisation of Trade Unions] and COFTU [Central Organisation Of Free Trade Unions].
The President said he wants to do more research on the figures after the workers representative said Shs800bn was needed for the mid-term access while NSSFs Byarugaba said they may need up to Shs3 trillion.
Museveni raised various issues including how this will affect workers' savings and what happens to the fund.
Prior NSSF MD Byarugaba had said the total fund now stands at Shs15 trillion and that each worker saves for between 25 – 30 years and earns Shs150m.
He said if they access their savings now, they lose up to Shs30m in 20 years.
He also said the fund would lose money because it would offer securities at a discount in a fire-sale.
“As long as you can explain to them… that when you take 5 million today, you lose 30 million in 20 years. Also, what happens to the fund..” Museveni asked.
He later said he would study the figures before making a decision in two weeks.
Werikhe who is also the MP for Bubulo West and Secretary-General of NOTU said they had agreed to a 20percent access of their 10million savings (Shs 2million).
“When we talked about mid-term, we met with all the stakeholders including NSSF. Workers who have reached 45 years and have contributed for ten years are 100,000 that is about 800bn. Parliament instead said 45 or 10. At 45, many people have challenges,” Werikhe said.
The workers also disputed NSSF's decision to use Shs500,000 – 1,000,000 as workers' incomes saying most workers earn between 200,000 and 600,000.
Every month institutions deduct 5% of employees’ salaries as contribution to NSSF, the employers top it up with 10 percent while government adds 22%.
NSSF is a government agency responsible for the collection, safekeeping, responsible investment and distribution of retirement funds from employees in the private sector who are not covered by the government retirement scheme.