The National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) has called for re-evaluation of the real estate investments of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to suit the needs of the contributors.
The Acting Chairman General NOTU, Musa Okello made the suggestion while appearing before the Select Committee investigating the alleged mismanagement of NSSF on Tuesday, 31 January 2023.
According to the union, the Shs1.1 trillion investment in real estate for the year ended 2021 is at risk and workers cannot afford the houses.
Okello said that the fund constructed houses in Lubowa on Entebbe road with each house costing approximately Shs3 billion.
“For whom are these houses being built? These are supposed to be investments for contributors who cannot even save Shs100 million at the time of accessing their savings. There is a very high level of insensitivity to the needs of the workers,” said Okello.
He urged the committee to recommend construction of affordable houses, saying that it is the only sure way of making returns on investments while benefiting those who contribute to the fund.
Okello also asked the committee to investigate the nomination of the NSSF Board representatives from the Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions (COFTU) accusing them of self-nomination.
“Illegal representation on the board is true because members of COFTU indulge in self-nomination. There is an illegality which needs to be corrected,” he said.
In response to the need for re-evaluation of NSSF investment plan, Hon. Fortunate Nantongo (DP, Kyotera District) wondered how investments are implemented and yet NOTU has representation on the board.
“How are these investments initiated and who is in charge? NOTU is part of the board and my thinking is that the union is consulted,” Nantongo said.
Hon. Karim Masaba (Indep., Industrial Division Mbale City) encouraged the NOTU Board representatives to always pay keen interest in the NSSF investment audited accounts.
“Since you say Shs1 trillion is at risk, do you see the NSSF audited accounts,” he asked.
Committee Chairperson, Hon. Mwine Mpaka questioned the role of NOTU in governance of NSSF saying such decisions are made by the board.
The NOTU Secretary General, Richard Bigirwa on the other hand wants NSSF to improve on compliance saying that the fund has fallen short of ensuring workers’ contributions are remitted by employers.
“We have received complaints where employers deduct money from employees but do not remit to NSSF. We also have information which shows that some organisations have it on record that they employ over 500 staff but less than 100 contribute to NSSF because majority are categorised as casual labourers,” he said.
Bigirwa added that NSSF also needs to address the issue of suspense accounts, where employees are not registered as contributors but accounts are opened in their names and money remitted to such accounts.
Hon. Amos Kankunda (NRM, Rwampara County) however, advised NOTU to keep abreast with the number of workers who contribute to NSSF and the status of their savings.
“Is the union conversant with the number of savers and do you have monthly updates on the status of the savings. You need to get these details from employers,” he said.
On Thursday, 19 January 2023, the House resolved to institute a committee to inquire into the operations of NSSF following reports of corruption and mismanagement of the Shs17.9 trillion fund.