There has been a heated public debate on whether the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) can pay some percentage to its members as part of social protection and security measures for the workers to cope up with the Covid-19 pandemic economic shocks.
According to Uganda’s social development sector plan 2015/2016 to 2019/2020, social protection refers to public and private interventions to address risks and vulnerabilities that expose individuals to income insecurity and social deprivation, leading to undignified quality of life.
Social security, on the other hand, looks at interventions to mitigate income shocks and decline in consumption due to factors such as old age, retirement, permanent disability, among others. The NSSF Act considers the same factors for payments of its customers’ savings.
When NSSF was contacted over the matter, they said the current legal regime doesn’t enable them pay its customers due to an outbreak of a pandemic, which is very true.
The Fund further said they don’t have the liquidity to pay all its customers at once since they invest the money to make profits for the customers’ savings, including lending government through its participation in treasury bonds auctions.
However, a motion can be tabled in Parliament for a debate to amend the NSSF Act, just like other laws have been easily amended, to enable the Fund pay out its customers some percentage of their savings since the pandemic has left many in income insecurity and shocks, thus majority are living in undignified quality of life.
Some private players in the insurance sector have already devised measures of supporting their customers during the Covid-19 pandemic. For example Prudential Uganda announced a cash pay-out to its customers should they unfortunately be diagnosed with coronavirus. The pay-out is intended to help their families manage expenses while they are in recovery.
In addition, if a customer is admitted in a hospital with Covid-19, Prudential will provide a daily allowance at no extra cost to the client.
I think our social security institutions can weigh in ways of supporting their customers during such difficult times such that the members can realise and appreciate the importance of savings.
Independent social researcher