By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Board Chairman, Peter Kimbowa has told Parliament’s select committee investigating activities of the Fund that the Gender Minister, Betty Amongi’s request for 6 billion Shillings was irregular.
Kimbowa and other Board members were appearing on Wednesday before the seven-member select committee named last week by Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, to inquire into the NSSF operations.
During the meeting, Mwine Mpaka, the select committee chairperson questioned the officials whether they had approved the 6 billion request by the Minister and whether it was irregular or not.
The controversial request was made through a letter from the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Betty Amongi to the NSSF Board Chairman and it proposed to facilitate activities to grow the Fund savers.
In response, Kimbowa said that the Minister’s request was irregular and that the Board has not approved the money.
Different media reports indicate that Minister Amongi declined to re-appoint the former NSSF Managing Director, Richard Buarugaba after the Fund refused to approve the 6 billion Shillings.
“The Board has not approved the 6 billion Shillings because the Board isn’t fully aware of the initiative. 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 to this project. This has not happened,” Kimbowa told the select committee.
Kimbowa added that assumptions also accompany a work plan and that the focus of their action is governed by the regulations regarding voluntary contribution, which are not there.
Eng. Silver Mugisha, the SSF Board Finance Committee Chairperson also said that the 6 billion came as an idea when they received the budget approval of Minister Amongi.
“When we sent the budget for approval to the Minister, the feedback was that it is approved but there is an idea that you allocate 6 billion for certain activities,” said Mugisha in part.
Mugisha further explained that when the idea came from the Minister, the NSSF management brought it to the Finance committee which resolved to evaluate whether it aligned with the Fund budget strategy and whether the budget included the same ideas.
Asked by MP Mpaka about the initiator of the idea, Mugisha said that he saw the idea in a letter. Kimbowa then said that it was the Minister who wrote, a response that prompted more questions from the select committee chairperson of whether the request was regular.
Workers MP Charles Bakkabulindi also wondered how budget proposals are initiated at the Fund.
MP Mpaka then said that budgeting process is done through the management of the investments committee, investment projects monitoring committee, the board and later Finance Committee.
In response, Hassan Lwabayi Mudiba the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) representative on the NSSF board said that it was irregular for the Minister to initiate the budget request.
After this confession by Mudiba, the NSSF Board chairman Kimbowa also confirmed that the 6 billion request was irregular.
“We stated very clearly that the Minister dealing with management on this matter was irregular, we have also stated that the board was introduced to this idea but the board did not consider anything until the documents were to come through the normal procedure of investment analysis,” explained Kimbowa.
While presenting a statement before parliament recently, Minister Amongi said that she had approved 6 billion after a work plan submitted to a board meeting on 25th November 2022.
She said that the money is under the NSSF operations budget for the current financial year 2022/2023.