Ugandan MPs approve mid-term access to NSSF savings

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MPs have passed the National Social Security Fund Bill 2019, giving Ugandans aged over 45 years and those who have saved for 10 years access to 20 per cent of their savings.

Parliament chaired by speaker Rebecca Kadaga also resolved that there should be dual management of the fund with the minister of Finance in charge of the money and its investment, while the ministry of Gender handles the social issues affecting the savers.

In September last year, MPs disagreed over the clauses relating to midterm access and the supervision of the funds. At the initial stages of the bill, the government wanted the ministry of Finance to supervise the fund, which had earlier been transferred to the Gender docket.

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The MPs had also failed to agree on the age group of people eligible to access the funds and the percentage that should be given out. But the joint committee on Finance and Gender which scrutinised the bill, in their report, proposed that only members aged above 45 and who have saved for at least 10 years, should be allowed to access 20 per cent of their benefits.

Agnes Kunihira, the vice chairperson of the Gender committee said Ugandans should be pleased about the passing of the bill. Other amendments include the mandatory savings by all workers in the formal sector. This implies that even employers employing less than five people will now be required to contribute to the fund.

However, parliament did not approve of unemployment benefits. The proposal was that a member of the Fund who has been unemployed for a continuous period of two years will be eligible for unemployment benefits. The rejected proposal had provided that the member shows evidence of having actively sought employment in vain. There are currently about 1.5 million NSSF subscribers.

The bill was tabled in 2019 by the state minister for Youth and Children Affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi. It proposed 29 amendments to expand social security coverage through mandatory contributions of all workers regardless of the size of the enterprise or number of workers. It also seeks to establish a stakeholder board, provide for midterm access to voluntary contributions and enhance fines.

(URN)

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