The amendments to the NSSF Act, which among others, provides for additional benefits to the existing age benefits, invalidity benefit and survivors benefit led to the parliamentary committees of Finance as well as Gender and Labour in May to okay mid-term access to 20 per cent of NSSF savings.
The money is, however, for only those who have saved for more than 15 years and are below the age of 45 years. Those between 45 years and 55 years should have saved for more than 10 years to benefit.
NSSF came out and reassured its members that it actually supports mid-term benefits. However, Mr Martin Nsubuga, the CEO of Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA), opposed it saying it is only Austria that has temporarily lent out its social security savings to its members during the Covid-19 lockdown, but the members will be required to pay back.
Interestingly, the managing director of the NSSF Mr Richard Byarugaba, who had said he supported the midterm benefits, turned around saying they will need between Shs2.6 trillion and Shs3 trillion if they are to pay out the 20 per cent to its members.
If 20 per cent of the savings is Shs3 trillion, that means NSSF has more than Shs15 trillion considering the fact that some money remain unclaimed by some of dead or absentee members.
The Covid-19 pandemic has adversely disrupted the low income earners, especially in the private sector. The total lockdown since March of parts of the economy has disrupted economic activities, has increased unemployment, despair and loss of their livelihood in the country, for example, teachers in private schools and Ugandans who work in informal sector and those who are self-employed.
Those are the members in dire need of 20 per cent mid-term access to their Savings. This category of savers lack the basic needs of life like food, shelter, and cloths. They do not want to spend luxuries like some corrupt politicians who steal taxpayers’ money.
At the age of 45yrs, these people are mature and can invest their savings in profitably.