The case for the liberalization, or the privatization of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), does not seem to be going away: it keeps on cropping up now and again without any settlement.
The reason is not far to know. NSSF is a cash cow. And in a country and society that idolizes theft, it is easy to see why there is such a scramble to posses it.
It is all based on the argument that the 1968 NSSF Act should be repealed to be in sync with the times; that in an economy of privatization, the financial markets should be allowed to have their play. Recently, however, the stronger argument emerging is that, the Act should simply be amended to cater for certain developments.
Those developments rely on the figments of the imagination attached to the international finance capital, fronted by the World Bank (WB) and its affiliates; the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Its local comprador elements are the so-called fund managers, who are impatiently itching to get their hands on the obligatory 10% and 5% contributions, which the industries and the workers, respectively, make to the NSSF monthly.
That raises more than seven billion shillings monthly. Consequent to that liquidity, the NSSF basically underwrites the entire banking system with its deposits in Bank of Uganda standing at nearly 700 billion shillings. It has seen NSSF accumulating liquidity over time. Indeed, financial pundits have it that NSSF deposited a sizable amount of money in the New York Exchange at Wall Street.
That is the type of money the WB affiliates, like the IFC, want to get their hands on. For them, it is about financé capital and not about the social aspect of the NSSF.
When they promulgated the Act in 1968, the proponents of the NSSF, had in mind a social contract with the working class. It was principally meant for those who were offering their labour in the private sector outside the Government Public Service schemes. The idea was to have a saving s scheme for these categories of workers to rely on as their retirement pension when they reached their non-working old age.
International finance capital and the local fund managers have completely no interest in the fate of the workers. They would most likely abscond with the workers’ savings through private funding schemes, if they managed to replace the NSSF or liberalized it to their advantage.
This should not be allowed to happen. Given the constant stealing of public funds, it would be suicidal to let these fund managers get their hands on the workers’ savings. It is easy to see that they would transfer these savings to their accounts outside Uganda.
And even if there was litigation, it would take such a long time that by the time the issue is settled, even if it were to the advantage of the workers, most of them would be dead, anyway. It is encouraging that Government appears to be taking this view.