Government targets NSSF cash for EC tower

Wednesday January 29 2020

Electoral Commission offices in Kampala. EC

Electoral Commission offices in Kampala. EC officials told MPs last week that they needed Sh72b to relocate to a new home after the roads authority earmarked the current home of the electoral body for the construction of Jinja-Kampala Expressway, Kampala Flyover as well as the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). FILE PHOTO 

By Moses Kyeyune

Government is considering financing the new home for the Electoral Commission (EC) using workers’ savings.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija revealed yesterday that government is engaging authorities at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to finance the construction of new EC headquarters at an amount yet to be stated.

“We had consultation with the funders of these projects. We have agreed that they will allow EC to remain EC undisturbed until June 2021,” Mr Kasaija said while appearing before Parliament’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to discuss EC deficit in the 2020/2021 Financial Year Budget.
“So don’t worry about them being evicted by Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), we have agreed that we will provide them housing through Bwebajja Government Village or the EC will get a plot of their choice somewhere and work with NSSF to put up the building,” he added.

Mr Kasaija explained that under the proposed deal, NSSF will recover the workers’ money in an agreeable mechanism, including funds that could have been used by the electoral body on paying rent.
The EC headquarters on Jinja-road in Kampala is up for demolition in June 2021 to pave way for the Kampala flyover project. Government in partnership with Japan will construct the flyovers at Clock Tower and Kitgum House, widen Mukwano Road and Queens’s Way.
EC officials told MPs last week that they needed Sh72b to relocate to a new home after the roads authority earmarked the current home of the electoral body for the construction of Jinja-Kampala Expressway, Kampala Flyover as well as the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

Looming deadline
The EC chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama, said Unra had given them up to December 2020 to shift yet the relocation had not been budgeted for. Unra has since given EC up to June 2021 to vacate the current premises.
Unra has also warned that failure to vacate within the agreed time would leave taxpayers incurring Shs300m daily in fines to the contractor due to delayed acquisition.

The Finance ministry provides an oversight role in NSSF. However, there is a proposal to split the mandate so that the Finance minister oversees fund management while the Social Security minister oversees policy matters.
Workers representative have since demanded that the Ministry of Finance be responsible for investing the NSSF money while the Gender ministry should look at policies that govern workers and ensure their social security for the future is guaranteed.

Concern over savings

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Although government is targeting workers savings, there were concerns from committee members led by Busiro East MP Medard Sseggona (DP), who asked if the proposal to use workers’ savings was made with consciousness of the possible outrage from the workers.
Mr Kasaija, however, said there will be no hostility since government won’t be taking free money but rather have it recovered with agreed upon interest.
The move, if finally adopted by the Cabinet, will have to first go through Parliament.

mkyeyune@ug.nationmedia.com

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