After several months of processing in the joint committee of gender and finance, the debate and eventual passing of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Amendment Bill, 2019, has been set for today in Parliament.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga gave MPs 24 hours to internalise the joint committee report and two minority reports before debating the Bill and possibly passing it.
“We have three positions, which I think we need to study. I defer debate on this until tomorrow so that members can go and study it,” the Speaker ruled.
She asked the political party whips to mobilise MPs to be available to participate in the debate of the Bill, which has long been awaited by the workers.
The Bill has in the past seen controversies to do with mid-term access of savings and also which ministry should supervise the fund. At the initial stages of the Bill, it emerged that the government wanted the Ministry of Finance to supervise the fund, which has always been the mandate of the Gender docket.
Gender minister Frank Tumwebaze said the current law enacted in 1995 does not address the “prevailing challenges” being faced by workers, especially the issue of their benefits and taxation.
In the main report presented yesterday by Workers MP Agnes Kunihira, the legislators on the joint committee recommended that savers be allowed to access 20 per cent of their savings at the age 45, and having saved for 10 years and above.
The main report also recommends there should be a dual management with the minister of Finance in-charge of the money and its investment while the Ministry of Gender should handle the social issues affecting the savers.
However, there were two minority reports attached to the main report opposing key recommendations of the joint committee.
One of the minority reports was authored by Bulamogi County MP Kenneth Lubogo who argued that savers who lose their jobs and fail to secure another employment in less than three years should be allowed to access 30 per cent of their savings with the Fund.
“This money belongs to someone and he/she has lost a job. I don’t see why we should tag it to 45 years. Denial of a person to access funds when he or she is in dire need such as food and medicine is unfair,” Mr Lubogo said.
Meanwhile, Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi (Budadiri West) and Mr Anthony Akol (Kilak North) in another minority report presented on their behalf by Mr Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West) departed on three main issues in the main report.
The two MPs argued that NSSF will be subjected to abuse if it is supervised by two ministries hence recommending that; “this Section 12 (18) be deleted so that the ministry responsible for social security be left to supervise and let the Ministry of Finance have a representative on the board.”
The Bill has been in Parliament since last year. Last month, President Museveni told MPs on the Finance Committee to closely analyse the Bill before it is passed into law. However, Workers MP Sam Lyomoki vowed to go on hunger strike if Parliament does not pass the Bill into law.