Speaker to announce select committee to investigate NSSF
Members of Parliament have resolved to set up a select committee to investigate the activities of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). Speaker of Parliament Anita Among noted that the membership of the Select committee will be communicated during the plenary sitting on Monday afternoon.
She made the pronouncement on Thursday after the Minister of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, Betty Amongi presented a statement on the emerging issues at NSSF.
The statement was prompted by an earlier directive by the Speaker amidst corruption allegations in the fund stemming from a letter authored by Amongi questioning the reappointment of the NSSF’s former Managing Director, Richard Byarugaba when his contract expired at the end of November 2022.
The NSSF Board led by Dr. Peter Kimbowa had endorsed Byarugaba’s reappointment for another five-year term and as a result, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja asked Amongi to proceed with the appointment “as recommended by the Board to avoid any managerial gaps, which can put the workers’ funds at risk”.
However, Amongi protested the move and instead called for an investigation into the former MD’s conduct while at the fund. She accused him of among others abuse of office and mismanagement of investments. She directed that investigations be conducted within two months in line with a resolution by the Board of directors.
In the statement to Parliament, Amongi said that members’ funds are safe and invested in fixed assets, equities, and real estate.
She said that although President Yoweri Museveni and the NSSF Board had recommended the re-appointment of Byarugaba and his Deputy Patrick Ayota, a number of petitions had been presented to several authorities including the President, Prime Minister, the Coordinator of Operations Wealth Creation (OWC), the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and herself.
Amongi said that the petitions resulted in several stakeholder meetings including that she refers to in a letter dated 7th December 2022 addressed to the NSSF Board Chairperson, which prompted the board to refer issues raised to IGG for investigations.
The Speaker questioned Amongi why she had to go against the Board’s recommendation to have Byarugaba re-appointed. Amongi said that it was within her mandate to ensure that the petitions against the former Managing Director are first cleared.
The Minister said that investigations that required a forensic audit were referred to the Auditor General and those bordering on impropriety, abuse of office, or corruption were referred to the Inspectorate of Government, with a request that their findings be shared within 60 days.
Amongi also explained to parliament why she together with the NSSF Board met the Coordinator of Operations Wealth Creation (OWC) Gen. Salim Saleh regarding the operations of the Fund.
“Suffice to clarify that the meeting I refer to, of the Board’s visit to meet Gen. Salim Saleh in Kapeeka on 6th December 2022 had the intention of establishing how a private industrial park with a big number of workers can inform strategies for the Fund to enroll these as members and contributors of NSSF as well as other strategic issues in line with the mandate of the Fund,” the Minister explained.
Speaker Among asked the Minister to bring all the letters she wrote to the board and the President in regard to the appointment of the Managing Director.
Patrick Nsamba, the Kassanda North said that documents tabled by the Minister raised key issues that parliament should take interest in.
He said that reports earlier indicated that the failure by Byarugaba to clear 6 billion Shillings needed for the strategic direction of growing the Fund, is the reason why the Minister declined to re-appoint him. But Amongi refuted the report.
The Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija declined to make any submission on the activities of NSSF and asked parliament to make his statement at a later date.