The New Minister in charge of regulating the National Social Security Fund Betty Amongi has warned workers they should not expect to storm the fund immediately after the president assents to the just passed NSSF bill by Parliament of Uganda.
Parliament on Wednesday November 24 passed key clauses in the long-debated NSSF Amendment bill particularly the one allowing for workers who’ve reached 45 years and above, have saved for more than 10 years, to be granted access to up to 20% of their savings.
Previously a domain of the Ministry of Finance, Parliament has now transferred all regulatory powers to the Ministry of Gender, with the Ministry of Finance left to handle only financial and investment matters
The ‘new minister-in-charge of the sector’ Betty Amongi afterwards sounded a warning to workers to hold on for celebrations and not expect to cash in before she issues regulations specifying when and who will be given priority to access the funds.
“The law alone does not allow you to access these funds; we shall put up regulations and the board will determine terms and conditions. So, there will be administrative procedures to follow for those who are eligible for midterm access so that things are not done haphazardly,” said Minister Amongi.
The Minister’s warning has however triggered fear among some workers with some suspecting that again the government might introduce stringent regulations that could delay or weaken the provisions of the bill.
The passing of the bill comes after some fierce haggling between workers representatives and the government. President Museveni declined to accent to the bill when it was passed by the previous Parliament saying the fund lacked the money to meet the midterm access mandate.
And as a sign of pressure from the government, the Funds’ Managing Director Richard Byarugaba, shifted positions from being in favour of mid term access and started arguing that the fund might not have enough funds to meet the mid-term access mandate.
Although he declined to sign into law the first bill, now President Museveni has 30 days to sign the bill to make it law.
Meanwhile, advocates of workers’ rights have celebrated the passing of the bill as a major milestone.
Usher Wilson Owere, the Chairman of the Amalgamated Transport Workers Union, and one of the major backers of the legal measure hailed the passage of the bill, as a major victory
Owere said through his Facebook account that: “Congratulations Workers of Uganda upon the Parliament of Uganda Passing NSSF amendments bill 2021 into law. Let me use this opportunity to Thank Rt.hon.speaker Jacob Jacob Olanya his Deputy all members of Parliament, Workers members of Parliament,all centres NOTU and COFTU the media, but most importantly President of Uganda for positive dialogue with the workers on NSSF bill.”