The former Managing Director of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Richard Byarugaba has refuted claims of mismanagement of the Fund.
Last month, Betty Amongi, the Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development declined to reappoint Byarugaba despite recommendations from both President Yoweri Museveni and the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja and instead called for investigations into the mismanagement of the fund.
Byarugaba was on Friday, February 3, appearing before the select Parliamentary committee investigating mismanagement claims at the Fund with a focus on issues like corporate governance of the Fund, the appointment of the Managing Director, and safety of savers’ money.
He told the committee that the Fund’s performance had improved in the last ten years, growing at a higher rate than the national GDP. “In 2012 the Fund was less than 4% of the country’s GDP. Currently, NSSF is more than 10.6% of GDP,” he said.
He continued to say that in the last ten years, the growth rate of member registrations had oscillated between 17% per annum, compliance had increased from 40% to 60%, annual contributions indicated an upward trajectory and assets grew to 17.3 trillion in June 2022.
On the return to member savings, Byarugaba told the committee that the Fund was paying double digit interest rate above inflation over the last ten years. “Previously, NSSF wasn’t paying above inflation; the average interest payout was 6.27% while inflation was at 6.3%. Over the last ten years, we have been paying double digit interest rates with inflation at 3.65%. Meaning that we are preserving member funds and giving real return to members. The highest interest rate paid to members in the history of the Fund is 15% that we paid in 2018.”
NSSF’s current management is led by Patrick Ayota, the Acting Managing Director had reported the same growth of the Fund when they appeared at the committee earlier in the week, contrary to allegations of unsatisfactory performance by Hon. Betty Amongi, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social development. NSSF is supervised by the Gender ministry and the Finance Ministry according to the new NSSF Act 2021. Whereas the Gender Ministry is in charge of operations at the Fund, the Finance Ministry oversees its investments.
Byarugaba also refuted claims of non-participation in the national development agenda by NSSF saying that the Fund provides the government with 40% of its domestic borrowing. “For every 10 shillings the Ministry of finance borrows from the public to develop roads, electricity and the health sector, Shs 4 is from the NSSF. If this doesn’t show participation in national development, then I don’t know what does!” Byarugaba said.
On the contentious Shs6 billion, Byarugaba said that Amongi had asked the Fund to provide for the money purportedly to support implementation of the new NSSF law and yet this was already provided for in the Fund’s overall operations budget for the financial year 2022/23. “The Minster’s letter of 16th June, 2022 to the Fund clearly shows that she wanted to handle the Shs6 billion,” Byarugaba told the committee.
Regarding the alleged purchase of Nakigala land at Shs400 billion as part of the Fund’s real estate investments, Byarugaba clarified that the amount was provisioned as total budget estimates for all strategic land purchases for the FY 2022/23 to purchase two land assets and that the amount wasn’t entirely for Nakigala as alleged by the Minister.
On the Shs40 billion budget provision for the Grain Council, Byarugaba clarified that the Fund had declined to partner with the council due to disagreement in implementation on the back of unclear accountability measures. The minister had instead looked at this as “insubordination” from Byarugaba.
The Committee is chaired by Mwine Mpaka who is the Member of Parliament for Mbarara City South. Other members of the committee include Workers MP Hon Charles Bakkabulindi, Mr. Karim Masaba (Industrial Division, Mbale City), Mr. Michael Kakembo (Entebbe Municipality), Ms. Fortunate Nantongo (Kyotera District Woman), Ms. Laura Kanushu (Persons with Disabilities), and Mr. Amos Kankunda (Rwampara County).