By Our Parliament
Out going Managing Director ,Richard Byarugaba who is at the center of a leadership row at the – 18 Trillion National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has told the parliamentary select committee that Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Betty Amongi was overstepping her oversight mandate and was meddling the management and operations of the fund.
Byarugaba, told the seven member committee that the allegations against him were baseless and accused Minister Amongi of disregarding the governing structure of the Fund by seeking to access 6 billion Shillings to facilitate activities in her Ministry.
He said that the activities that the minister sought to facilitate in the Gender Ministry were already being implemented by NSSFand described the Minister’s action as a “clear conflict of interest.”
The NSSF Board Chairman, Peter Kimbowa had earlier told the same committee that the Gender Minister’s request for 6 billion Shillings was irregular.
“The Board has not approved the 6 billion Shillings because the Board isn’t fully aware of the initiative,” Kimbowa told the select committee. “The Board has requested management to come up with a comprehensive work plan and examine how the various activities are going to be resourced and we also examine the accountability matrix that will be attached . This has not happened.”
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija on Thursday said that he objected the 6 billion Shillings since the Ministry of Gender received a budget from the Treasury. Kasaija said that it is irregular for a ministry supervising the Fund to request money from it because the Ministry of Gender is provided a budget through the Treasury. Kasaija added that the matter of the 6 billion Shillings came to his attention and he disagreed with it in principle.
But Minister Amongi says that her decision to request for the 6 billion Shillings was guided by Section 29 of the NSSF Act which mandates her to amend the NSSF budget.
Amongi explained that the law provides that the Board may, with the sanction of the Minister make a disbursement notwithstanding that the disbursement is not provided for in any budget. According to Amongi, she requested for the funds after she identified that the Fund’s current financial year 2022/2023 budget did not provide for activities to implement the amended NSSF Act which introduced voluntary contributions.
Byarugaba also dismissed claims that NSSF was going to Ug.Shs.400 billion to purchase Nakigalala land. He said that out of the 400 billion, only 250 billion was for Nakigalala land, 120 billion was to purchase police land and 30 billion for other investment ventures.
“The role of the Minister is to approve the budget and not to conduct due diligence which is for the procurement process, this is called interference,” said Byarugaba.
He added that NSSF had been planning to buy Nakigalala land since 2019 and that the valuation of 250 billion was arrived at by the management and the Chief Government Valuer. Byarugaba said that all these reports had been availed to the Minister.
The committee has since allowed Byarugaba to prepare full response to the allegations leveled against him .
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