NSSF to hold Virtual career expo

By Deo Wasswa

The National Social Security Fund Career Expo goes online this year as they focus on equipping university students with employment and entrepreneurial skills for the “new normal” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 3-day Career Expo, now in its 10th year, will be held virtually starting Wednesday, March 24th to Friday, 26th, 2021.

Reflecting on the Expo theme this year titled “Re-purposing your Career Goals to the New Normal”, NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba said that the country must realize that the employment and business landscapes have changed, and it cannot be business as usual.

“We are cognizant of the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we think, work and live. If we needed any proof that technology is now the mainstay for every decision and transaction, the pandemic has confirmed it,” he said.

“Whether you are in formal employment or an entrepreneur, you must harness technology, especially digital technology to be competitive. Fortunately, young people, especially those leaving university are better placed not only to innovate in this space but also take advantage of the opportunities,” he said.

“This Expo is an opportunity for all young people in tertiary institutions to learn from experienced speakers this year,” he Said. He added that the speakers will include experts from different fields ranging from technology, banking, startups, business and human resource management.

The Expo will be broadcast online and on social media platforms, Will focus on three discussion areas namely; “Pursuing new ideas beyond university degrees”; “Preparing students for the current versatile job market”; and “Matching capabilities with the new changing world”.

Now in its 10th year running, the Career Expo has so far impacted more than 167,000 university students and Over 68,000 former students kick started their retirement savings through registration with the Fund.

NSSF partners with DFCU to ease social security fund transactions

By Deo Wasswa

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has unveiled the agency service that will enable its members to make their social security transactions at the nearest agent in their neighborhood without visiting the Fund offices.

While unveiling the innovation at Workers House, Richard Byarugaba, and NSSF Managing Director said it is part of the Fund’s channels that will further ease access to their services for its members. Byaruhanga said, “We have a branch network of 19 branches serving over 2 million customers. With this service, it means that NSSF Customers don’t need to travel long distances to access our offices, but can make transactions at the nearest bank agent at flexible working hours.”

In addition, the service is expected to reduce the Fund’s operation and administrative costs especially in establishment of temporary service centers where it doesn’t have a footprint.

The service will be executed in partnership with DFCU Bank and the Agent Banking Company (ABC) Limited. DFCU will provide its bank agents to facilitate the NSSF transactions countrywide while the Agent Banking Company provides the technology that links all bank agents countrywide.

Matthias Katamba, DFCU Bank Managing Director said the service is in line with their strategy to increase financial inclusion in the country. “We are proud to be the first bank to partner with NSSF on this front. Adding social security transactions to our list of financial services through the agency banking model, gives us an opportunity to further extend more financial services, more conveniently, to our customers, the under banked or unbanked population. Partnerships such as this one with NSSF are testament to our commitment to delivering on DFCU’s brand promise of making more possible.”

For now, members can only be able to submit their NSSF contributions at the 300 dfcu agent locations. In the near future, the agents will provide other NSSF services like employer and individual or employee registrations.

NSSF newly opened apartments to fetch upto UGX26 Billion

By Deo Wasswa
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has officially opened the Citadel Place, Mbuya, its 40-units housing project, the latest addition to its real estate portfolio.

The project comprises 40 high-end apartments with a gross area of 160 square meters,it also has amenities like a swimming pool, fully equipped gym, a club house and 24 hour CCTV surveillance.

The Fund expects to earn about Ugx 26 billion in revenue from sale of the 40 apartments at a cost of Ugx 650 million each.

Speaking at the unveiling of the project, NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba revealed that 21 units have so far been booked and 2 are already occupied.

“This is testament that the market for high end real estate exists in Uganda,” he said.

Byarugaba added that the Fund is providing a housing solution for the high, middle and low income earners.

“Our Mbuya project and Lubowa Housing Project currently under development on the Fund’s 600 acres of land in Lubowa comprising of 2,741 housing units will cater for the high income earners. The off taker project in Kyanja completing of 160 units will cater for the second category while our Temangalo affordable housing project comprising of about 5,000 units will cater for the low income earners,” he added.

The Real Estate portfolio makes up 6% of the Fund’s assets under management. Fixed Income and Equities make up the rest at 79% and 15% respectively as at June 30, 2019.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, the Minister of State General Duties in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Hon. Gabriel Ajedra Aridru commended the Fund for efficiently extracting value from its Real Estate portfolio.

“Just five years ago, the Fund was struggling to complete any real estate project. You may also recall that Real Estate used to be the Fund’s Achilles Heel. I am delighted because we have seen 3 projects so far completed in the last 2 years. This is tremendous progress,” he said.

In addition to Citadel Place Mbuya, the Fund opened Jinja City House in 2018 and Mbarara City House in July this year. Both are mixed development projects.

He however challenged the Fund to provide a solution for the low end of the market, which would make a significant contribution to reduction of housing deficit in Uganda which currently stands at 2.1M.

NSSF declares 11% interest rate for 2018/2019 financial year

By Deo Wasswa
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has today declared an interest rate of 11% for the Financial Year 2018/2019 to its members, over and above the 10 year average rate of inflation now at 6.71%.

This was announced by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija, during the Fund’s 7th Annual Members Meeting at Serena Hotel.

The interest declared is lower than last year’s 15% interest due to a decline in regional equity prices and strengthening of the Uganda shilling, which affected the valuation of the Fund’s holdings in all foreign currency balances and equity valuations, thus impacting the Fund’s over all income.

“The stock exchanges in East Africa, and generally in the whole of Africa suffered significant reduction in value of the listed entities, affecting entities like the Fund that invests regionally,” the Minister said.

The new rate translates into UGX 978 billion and will be calculated and credited on the balance outstanding on the members accounts as of 1st July 2018, in accordance with provisions of the NSSF Act.

“Although lower than what I declared last year, the rate I have declared today is higher than 6.7% – the 10 year average rate of inflation, the Fund’s benchmark. It is also higher than annual inflation of 3.4% recorded last Financial Year,” he said.

“Most important, the Fund has paid its members a real return, thus eliminating the risk of erosion of the value of their saving as a result of inflation.

NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba said that in spite of the difficult investment environment, the Fund performed over and above most performance targets.

“Overall, we created value for our members. In fiscal year 2012/2013, we committed to pay members a real return – at least 2% above the 10 year inflation. We have consistently delivered on this promise and have done so again this year,” he said.

NSSF Board Chairman, Patrick Byabakama reassured members that the Fund was on a growth trajectory, having grown its assets under management by 13.6% from UGX9.9Trillion in the previous financial year to UGX11.3 trillion in 2018/2019.

He also said that the Fund’s focus going forward will be to conclude the Real Estate projects as well as innovations to be responsive to needs of the members that will be occasioned by the proposed NSSF Amendment Bill.

NSSF set to recover over UGX160 billion from employers

By Patricia Osman

The National Social Security Fund is seeking to recover over 160 billion shillings following announcement of a grace period of 3 months for all employers that have not remitted employees ‘social security contributions to agree a payment plan.

NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba says in exchange, the Fund will waive up to 95% of the penalty amount owed.

10,839 out of more than 33,270 employers registered with the Fund have not paid NSSF contributions in a period ranging from 2 months up to 7 years thereby denying their employees social security protection.

Mr. Byarugaba said that although it is the obligation of every employer to pay social security contributions for their employees on a timely basis and in correct amounts, the Fund recognizes that for various reasons, some employers may be unable to remit funds on a regular basis. Eventually, they get overwhelmed by the arrears and penalties levied on unremitted funds.

“Therefore for the next 90 days, we have declared an Amnesty for all defaulting employers to allow them negotiate payment plans with the Fund. In turn, I will waive up to 95% of the penalty the defaulting employer is supposed to pay. This is on condition that such an employer comes forward, commits to clear all the arrears owed in a period to be agreed by signing a Deed of Settlement,” Byarugaba said.

Section 14 (2) of the NSSF Act empowers the Managing Director to waive “whole or part of any penalty subject to such conditions as he or she may determine.”

He added that using a similar approach, the Fund has already recovered about Ushs 13.7 billion since July 2017 from 380 employers who came forward and signed Deeds of Settlement.

Mr. Byarugaba said that employers that do not take advantage of the Amnesty window risk court action to recover the arrears, the penalty and interest accrued.

“Litigation is our last resort. We prefer to have discussions with employers as per our Relationship Management business model, because we understand that sometimes, businesses face challenges with their cash flows. However, employers that not only categorically default but are also unwilling to agree payment plans with the Fund will be taken to court,” he said.
Information available from the Fund indicates that 174 employers have been arraigned before courts of law and over Ushs 17.8 billion has been recovered in the process.
Byarugaba added that beyond paying for their employees’ social security, employers should know that remitting NSSF is good for their business.

“Companies that do business with the government, many other government agencies and even in the private sector are required to present clearance certificates confirming that they are NSSF compliant. We also know that employers who pay social security contributions easily attract and retain the best employees. It is therefore a good business decision for employers to pay NSSF contributions,” he said.

As at end of December 2018, the Fund was worth Ushs 10.2 trillion up from Ushs 8.7 trillion in December 2017. Monthly average contributions are now at over Ushs 96 billion.

NSSF, Mulago, and other players partner in blood donation drive

By Deo Wasswa
National social security fund, Mulago Hospital, Uganda Blood Bank and Uganda Red Cross society have entered into partnership to collect over 6000 units of blood in a bid to save lives and also avoid blood shortages that usually hit the upcountry health facilities.

The week long drive campaign will be collecting blood from the public in different centers which includes Constitutional Square, Workers House, Clock Tower, Mukwano Arcade and Owino Market, Kalerwe, Bwaise, Mukono, and Entebbe.

Speaking at the blood donation launch, Dr. Dorothy Kyeyune Byabazaire the Director Uganda Blood Transfusion Services has commended NSSF and its partners in championing this cause, saying that whereas as UBTS they are mandated to collect 1,200 units of blood daily to meet the country’s demand but they are only able to collect under 800, units due to various challenges that range from access to funding and other logistics.

“Many of our international partners are cutting back their support which has left the National Blood Bank with challenges. We therefore have to start looking within the country for partners. We appreciate organizations such as NSSF that have come in to fill this void. We hope other organizations and individuals can emulate this gesture,” Dr Kyeyune said.

To qualify as a blood donor, someone has to be above the age of 17 years, weigh more than 45kg, and is in good health.

Statistics from World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that Uganda has an annual demand of about 340,000 units of blood but falls short by over 100,000 units. Last year, only 240,000 units were collected against a targeted 340,000 units in Uganda. This year, The Uganda Blood Bank is aiming to collect 300,000 units of blood.

At the same event, Richard Byarugaba, the managing director of NSSF noted that the reason why they champion this cause annual is the passionate the fund has about the communities they serve and believe a healthy community is critical for the fulfillment of the fund’s mandate.

‘’That is why we are committing resources and our office spaces this week as donation collection points” said Byarugaba.

Under the theme “Stand Up for Life”, the donation drive will take place at the Constitutional Square in Kampala, Workers House, Clock Tower, Mukwano Arcade and Owino Market, Kalerwe, Bwaise, Mukono, and Entebbe.

Upcountry, the donation drive will be held at NSSF Branch Offices offices in Mbale, Mbarara, Gulu, Arua, Fort Portal, Jinja, Mukono, Kabale and Masaka as well as other high traffic areas in major towns.

Robert Kwesiga, the Secretary General Uganda Red Cross Society said; “Uganda Red Cross through the MOH has the mandate of mobilizing Voluntary blood donors in Uganda. We appreciate corporate entities like NSSF that come one board to complement our efforts through mobilising customers and their stakeholders to appreciate such a humanitarian cause. Donating blood saves lives and is voluntary. We therefore appreciate the spirit behind this and pray that this grows beyond the one week blood drive to something bigger which we can do every other year”.

“Uganda Red Cross has a blood donor recruitment Strategy where we preach to the converted first (our volunteers and members) to donate and live by example. From there, other people join and appreciate the worth of life. With that, we stop relying on students and young people whom we always target while in schools. Our branch network across the country is well positioned and volunteers in communities do this very well as part of our community activities”.

“I want to call upon all people who fall under the age bracket of blood donors, and are in good health to heed to the call and see that we deal with blood shortages and save lives of vulnerable people who require blood transfusions. We are able and can meet the country blood targets, we just have to work hard and improve public perceptions and attitude towards donating blood,” he added.

Minister appoints new Board of directors for NSSF

By Deo Wasswa

The minister for Finance has appointed an 8 man team to serve as Board of directors of National social security fund for the next three years.

The board is chaired by Patrick Kaberenge who has been re-appointed in the same position. The other appointments include Pius Bigirimana, permanent secretary ministry of gender and Patrick Ocailap, the deputy permanent secretary ministry of finance as representative of government on the board. Florance Namata, general manager human resource at centenary bank has been also reappointed on the board representing employers.

The new appointees to the board are Bamwesigye Fred, the deputy managing director of civil aviation authority also representing employers and Dr. Isaac Magoola, the head of department business administration at Makerere University business school, also representing workers.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new board at NSSF head offices in Kampala, Minister Kasaija has noted that the appointment of the new board follows various consultations with key stakeholders and issuance of licenses to act as trustees by Uganda retirement benefits regulatory authority(URBRA) in pursuant to section 40 and 41 of the URBRA act.

The minister asked the board to abide by the governing laws, specifically the NSSF Act and Uganda retirement benefits regulatory authority Act (2011) as well as the internal policies and procedures.

The minister however clarified that the process to select a representative from the National organization of trade union(NOTU) is still ongoing.

” I have tasked NOTU to re- submit other nominees for consideration because their initial nominees did not make it through the vetting process. I’m confident that with NOTU’s cooperation, this process can be concluded soon.

Nonetheless, Pursuant to section 3 of the NSSF Act, the Board is constituted and authorized to conduct business on behalf of the Fund,” he said.

Kasaija told the new board that their mandate is to ensure that there is secure, profitable and effective financial management of the fund for the benefit of the workers in particular and the country at large.

“Your appointment comes at times when the fund is stable and performing exceptionally well. I therefore challenge you to provide the strategic direction needed to steer the fund to greater heights”, he said.

At the same event, Patrick Kaberenge the board chairman has noted that the focus of this new board shall focus on unlocking the value of real estate projects of pension towers, completion of the first phase of Lubowa project, Nsimbe and Temangalo developments as well as using the right technology for pension administration.

Jamwa’s bail ruling expected today

By Sania Babirye
The Supreme Court is this morning expected to rule on the bail application filed by the convicted and jailed former NSSF managing Director David Chandi Jamwa.
The date was  set by a single justice Stella Arach Amoko after concluding hearing of Jamawa’s application .
This comes after the  court  of appeal maintained the corruption and 14 year jail sentence that was handed to Jamwa by the anti corruption court in 2011 for causing government a 3.1 billion financial loss.
Jamwa  began his 14 year jail sentence in January this year after being out on bail for the past since years while challenging his conviction and sentence but appealed both anti corruption court and court of appeal decisions and also applied for bail.
Jamwa who has been represented by lawyers of AF Mpanga wants to be temporally released on five grounds including the fact that he has lodged an  appeal before the Supreme court challenging both his conviction  and sentence and that his appeal has high chances of success.
Jamwa further claims   that his health requires specialized medical attention and a balanced nutritional diet which he is unable to access while serving his sentence in Luzira prison.
Jamwa has stated that he will not violate any bail conditions as witnessed in his earlier bails granted by the two lower courts.
However ,  Prosecution has asked the supreme court to dismiss Jamwa’s bail application.
According to  state Attorney from the IGG’s office Rogers Kibobe, James was found guilty to offenses relating to economic loss
and he is no longer presumed innocent  to be legible for bail since he has not even  served five 5% of his sentence since  his conviction in 2011.
 Kinobe says Jamwa’s medical form only indicates that he suffers from  obesity and hypertension and does not indicate that the medical facility in Luzira prison  cannot handle his situation or does it recommend the him to external treatment.
Jamwa was found guilty of abusing his authority as NSSF MD when he  sold  -off pre-mature NSSF bonds to Crane Bank which occasioned a 3 .1 bn shillings loss to the fund.
However Jamwa who had  been out on bail since 2011 still maintains no loss was realised by the fund as he re-invested the money  from the sold bonds from which NSSF reaps profits.

NSSF hits the Ugx 100 billion mark in June 2017

By Wasswa Deo

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has collected more than Ugx 100 billion in contributions from its members in the month of June 2017, the Managing Director Richard Byarugaba has confirmed.

It is the first time that the Fund has hit the Ugx 100 billion mark in contributions in a single month. The previous highest mark was Ugx 85 billion that was collected in June 2016.

“This UGX100 billion plus contributions collection performance in a single month is the best ever in the history of the Fund. 2016/17 has been a challenging financial year, but we have come through with yet another collections milestone that is above our monthly collections target of Ugx 77 billion. I applaud all staff at the Fund for their tireless efforts,” he said.

Byarugaba added that he is optimistic the Fund will better last year’s overall financial performance, in spite of the challenges the economy faced in the just concluded financial year, which have had an effect on the business environment.

As a result, the Minister of Finance, Planning & Economic Development Matia Kasaija declared an interest rate of 12.3% interest, worth over Ugx 606 billion credited to NSSF members’ accounts.

Byarugaba could not confirm the new interest rate that the Fund will pay, but said that it will be declared by the Minister, in accordance with the NSSF Act.

The declaration by the Minister will happen possibly in September this year and will depend on how well the Fund has performed. However, he confirmed that the rate will not be less than the 10 year average rate of inflation plus 2 percentage points, which is in line with the FUND’s commitment to pay its members a real return.

NSSF invests in fixed income, real estate and equities. It is the largest institutional investor on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) and one of the largest domestic holders of Government of Uganda debt.