Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga says she will meet the chairpersons of the Gender and Finance Committees who have disagreed over the processing of the National Social Security Fund Amendment Bill, 2019.
Kadaga told Parliament that she will meet both chairpersons in order to forge a way forward in the processing of the Bill.
The Bill proposes 29 amendments with the aim of expanding social security coverage through mandatory contributions of all workers regardless of the size of the enterprise or number of workers. It also seeks to clearly define the roles of the ministers for social security, finance and public service in the management of NSSF.
Kadaga made the decision after the chairperson for the Gender Committee, Alex Ndeezi complained that his counterpart, Henry Musasizi of the finance committee had hijacked the role of the gender committee to spearhead the scrutiny of the Bill.
However, Musasizi told the House that the joint committee had concluded the public hearings and that the finance committee has a draft report on the Bill. He added that the committee report will be ready for presentation to the House by end of next week.
Kadaga, however, asked whether the Finance Committee had sought input from Ndeezi and other Gender committee members.
Ndeezi, however, told MPs that Musasizi did not notify him or the gender committee members about the draft report. Ndeezi claims that while the joint committee had scheduled a meeting with the Minister for Gender, Janat Mukwaya last week, Musasizi cancelled the meeting without prior notice.
He also noted that Musasizi has not been cooperative ever since the Speaker directed the Gender Committee and Finance Committee to form a joint committee to process the Bill.
Kadaga justified merging of the gender and finance committees because the Bill not only provides for social protection but it also has financial aspects such as taxation of benefits and payment of an annual levy to the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority.
Ndeezi says that the committee has also exceeded the 45 day period in which it should process the Bill and present its report to the House for adoption and passage of the Bill.
The rift between the gender and finance committee chairpersons can be traced to the disagreements between the respective ministries when their political leaders submitted views on the Bill before the joint committee.
While the Gender Minister, Janat Mukwaya defended the provisions of the Bill including the controversial ones related to several overseers of NSSF such as public service, gender and finance ministers, taxation regimes among others, the Minister of State for General Duties in the Finance ministry, Gabriel Ajedra expressed reservations on the Bill.
Ajedra noted that it is better if the Bill sticks to the social protection aspects of the provident fund and not financial components such as taxation which impact the economy.
He explained to the joint committee that for instance, the proposal to exempt NSSF investment and contributions of employers to the scheme will result in other pension schemes demanding for tax exemptions as well.