• IGG  Betty Kamya freezes spending at NSSF
  • Only wage bill and statutory expenditure is allowed
  • NSSF revised budget for financial year 2023-2024 suspended till investigations are  completed

The NSSF saga  about the reappointment of Richard Byarugaba  has taken a new twist  with the Inspector General of Government (IGG) taking over the investigations as per President Yoweri Museveni’s directives that both Gender Minister Betty Amongi and long serving Managing Director Richard Byarugaba be investigated about the management of the fund .

Earlier the President had agreed with the NSSF Board of Directors recommendation that Byarugaba just like his Deputy Mr, Patrick Ayota be reappointed in their positions to serve for another five year term as provided for in sections 39 and 40 of the amended NSSF Act .

Ayota was indeed reappointed but Byarugaba was not appointed for unclear reasons – leading to protracted exchanges that have drawn in powerful and influential groups .

This prompted the Prime Minister Hon. Robinnah Nabbanja to write to Gender Minister Amongi to reappoint Byarugaba following several meetings with concerned stakeholders . However, Amongi defied the Prime Minister’s directive when President Museveni was away attending the USA-Africa summit in Washington DC .

It has since been alleged that Amongi refused to reappoint  Byarugaba after he refused to bow to her demands to release Ug.Shs.6bn NSSF workers hard earned money to her Gender Ministry for “mobilization” of voluntary savings among other activities .

 As the disagreement between Byarugaba and Amongi deepened drawing in many interested groups-some very influential, on his return from USA –HE President Museveni called for another meeting were accusations and counter accusations were leveled between the two protagonists -Minister Amongi and Byarugaba prompting the President to direct for a full investigation before he takes a final decision on the matter .

Now, the NSSF board chairperson, Dr Peter Kimbowa, confirmed that they have already recommended to the government’s relevant investigative bodies including  the IGG’s office to carry out investigations as per the Presidential Directives.

The IGG  Beti Kamya has already swung in action freezing all NSSF expenditures including the Ug.Shs. 6bn which had been quietly included in a revised budget for NSSF for the financial year 2023-2024. In a letter to NSSF Board and Management Kamya directed that no funds apart from the wage bill and statutory obligations should be spent until the investigations have been completed.

Where it all started

At first Minister Amongi had declined to renew Byarugaba’s contract on the premise that he and his Deputy had locked the retirement age of  60 years. However, according to the amended NSSF Act no age limit is imposed but provides that the Minister can appoint the MD and his Deputy for a term of five years which can be renewed only once . This means that since the new amended law cant operate retrospectively ,   Byarugaba could be legally repointed for another five year term renewable .

Sections 39 and 40 of NSSF Act, Chapter 222, as amended, provides for the managing director and deputy managing director, respectively, to be appointed by the minister, in this case, Ms Amongi, on the recommendation of the board. The Board recommended and the Prime Minister wrote to Amongi to implement the Board recommendation and reappoint  Byarugaba. The Board and many stakeholders were of the view that given the circumstances Byarugaba has done exceeding well –turning around a fund that was collapsing following numerous financial scandals –to the extent that the fund has been paying healthy- two digits -interest rate to its members for the first time since its establishment .

Once Amongi realized that she could not win on the argument of age , she then relied on a 22-page petition signed by more than 100 workers to convince the President to direct for full investigation . The petition was supported by one of the workers MPs who are also divided over the matter .

Out Spoken workers MP Usher Wislon Owere has come out strongly to state that they will not allow Gender Minister Amongi’s political pressure on the NSSF Board and Management to release to her shs. 6bn of workers hard earned money illegally . Owere questioned why Minister Amongi doesn’t submit her budgetary request to the ministry of Finance which is constitutionally mandated to fund ministries through the consolidated fund after appropriation by parliament.

Legal experts speaker out

Legal experts who have talked to this publication have indicated that legally Byarugaba can be reappointed under the new amended NSSF Act since age is not specifically provided for. They also argued that it is illegal and in fact unconstitutional for NSSF management to use workers savings to fund the Ministry of Gender activities . Several lawyers said they are ready to take up the matter and file a constitutional petition together with a civil suit challenge Amongi’s actions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *