In the wake of growing calls by workers to access their savings with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga says that it is high time that Parliament amended the NSSF Act to allow for midterm access to savings.
Since President Yoweri Museveni announced a total lockdown of the economy as a measure to slow down the spread of coronavirus, the social media has been awash with demands that NSSF gives the individual savers at least 10 percent of their savings with the fund to help them cope with the hard economic times.
Kadaga in an interview with NBS TV on Wednesday said that it is about time that Parliament took up its legislative role to amend the NSSF Act and make it responsive to the current COVID-19 crisis.
“There’s the argument that people should access their savings before 50 years. What’s the point of me saving money and I die; and other people use it. I’m hungry now. This is something we need to discuss as Parliament,” Kadaga said.
In August last year, former Labour, Gender and Social Development Minister, Janat Mukwaya tabled before Parliament a bill titled, the National Social Security Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to among others, expand social security coverage and benefits through enforcing mandatory contributions for all workers in the formal and informal sectors, provide for midterm access to benefits and taxing of benefits for savers who withdraw their savings before attaining 50-years.
The Bill is still stuck in Parliament following a disagreement between the Finance and Gender committees that were scrutinizing it.
The current calls for midterm access to the savings were started by former FDC President Dr. Kizza Besigye who urged NSSF to pay out a portion of the savings to the savers to help them cope with COVID-19 challenges.
“It’s surprising that NSSF hasn’t, as yet, rolled out a program to paying out a portion of members’ savings to afford them vital support through the COVID19 crisis. Isn’t this what “Social Security”, a safety net, is about? This is a world crisis of unprecedented proportions!” Besigye stated.
But NSSF managing director Richard Byarugaba said that the fund had no legal basis upon which ad-hoc payments can be made.