We won’t resign, NSSF bosses tell Parliament

 The top management of National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has ruled out stepping aside as recommended by the Parliament’s Select Committee. 

The managers said they have to continue providing the safety of members’ savings and growing the Fund’s investment portfolios.

The House last Thursday, after a heated debate, adopted the committee’s report, which among others, recommended that the top management of NSSF steps aside to create room for investigation by the Inspectorate of Government.

“The Committee, therefore, recommends that the NSSF management that participated in the initiation of this Shs1.8 billion budget for donations much as they did not participate in the final approval; MD (Managing Director)-[now former] Mr Richard Byarugaba, DMD (Deputy MD) Mr Patrick Ayota, CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Mr Stevens H. Mwanje, Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Ms Barbara Arimi Teddy, should step aside with immediate effect for investigations… for the offenses of abuse of office, corruption, and conspiracy to commit a felony with a view of immediate prosecution,” the report read. 

The committee said the Shs1.8 billion was concealed under the Corporate Social Responsibility/Investment component.

 It, however, noted that Shs250 million of this money had been appropriated to the board chairman, Shs250 million to the Gender minister, Shs500 million to board members and Shs800 million to workers’ unions. 

However, while responding to the committee report during a press conference yesterday at the Fund’s headquarters in Kampala, the acting MD, who is the substantive deputy managing director of NSSF, Mr Patrick Ayota, said they will not resign.

“The report from Parliament is advisory. It goes to the Executive who then assesses the merit of what has been recommended and at that point whatever they decide, we will then implement. But until they do, the Fund has to continue running,” he said. 

Mr Ayota also  wondered how the Fund will continue operating if all top managers step aside.
“I remember the Committee [kept talking about] safety of Members’ Funds which was good but you asked the Minister [Betty Amongi of Gender] to resign, the board to step aside, top management to step aside and [then] what happens to the Fund? The point of it is that until the Executive pronounces itself in terms of the recommendations, we will still stay put,” Mr Ayota emphasised. 

The NSSF board chairman, Mr Peter Kimbowa, told the media that in the Committee report, there is no evidence that the board or management misused savers’ money.

He said the absence of any such evidence is also an affirmation that members’ savings can be trusted with the Fund.

“In effect, the committee report brings to light the fact the famous Shs6 billion was never disbursed, nor was the Shs1.8 billion shared among board members. The work plans [for the respective amounts] have not been approved by the board. So all that money is still intact in the Fund and there was no stealing as the public perceives.” he said.

Mr Kimbowa explained that the Fund only refrained from responding to the report to enable the parliamentary process to take its course, but that should in no way be construed to mean that the Fund agrees with all the contents, and conclusions of the report.

Mr Ayota also explained why NSSF lent Uganda Clays Limited, a domestic company, Shs11 billion in 2010.  He said the loan was given to enable the company to survive, to save more than 1,000 jobs, and to save the 32 percent equity NSSF had made into Uganda Clays. 

“Clearly doing nothing was more detrimental to workers’ funds than what the Fund did. Somehow, we presented this to the committee and they ignored all the information that had been provided and [instead [condemned] the Fund for this action,” Mr Ayota said. 

Mr Kimbowa also clarified on the December 6, 2022 meeting that took place in Kapeeka, a town in Nakaseke District in Central Uganda, between the NSSF team and Gen (rtd) Caleb Akandwanaho, aka Salim Saleh, the coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation. 

Kapeeka, he said, is a platform for debate, discussion, and creating new alternatives and also technically feasible and financially viable solutions for the country. 

*Compiled by Martin Luther Oketch, Moses Ndhaye & Esther Oluka

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