Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University staff have been exempted from the mandatory contribution to the National Social Security Fund-NSSF.
The exemption has been given by the finance minister Matia Kasaija, who approved the Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme as a supranational scheme to offer retirement benefits to employees of the university.
Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme and NSSF have been fighting over the management of the staff’s retirement benefits since 2009. Upon its creation, Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme signed a trust deed with the university management agreeing that the institution would remit monthly contributions equivalent to 15 percent of each employee’s salary to NSSF.
The trust deed notwithstanding, NSSF sued Makerere University for non-compliance with the law, which requires all employers to remit pension savings of their employees to the NSSF unless exempted. Makerere then suspended the remittance to Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme in March this year by diverting the contributions amounting to four billion Shillings to NSSF.
Although the decision was challenged by the staff, the University secretary defended the move noting that management had failed to prove that the University had been exempted from contributing to NSSF. The registered trustees of Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme also dragged the University to court for breach of a trust deed.
Now the Minister says that an exemption has been granted in line with a request from the university management and a recommendation from the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority. He however advised the entities to maintain the trust deed and rules that comply with the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority Act, 2011.
Meanwhile, the Makerere University Council has guided that the exemption does not mean that the University cannot contribute to the NSSF. Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice-Chancellor says that members who prefer that their savings should be saved with the NSSF will be allowed and so will those who want to save with the University scheme.
“Employees who are currently saving with NSSF and wish to cross to MURBS and vice versa must confirm so in writing to the University Secretary,” Prof. Nawangwe’s communication to staff reads. He added that pension savings of all employees who will not have confirmed MURBS as their preferred pension scheme by the deadline to be set by the University secretary will automatically be remitted to the NSSF.
Dr Robert Kakuru, the General Secretary of Makerere University Academic Staff Association-MUASA, notes the recent impasse on the rightful manager of their benefits had created fear on likely mismanagement of the contributions thus causing loss to the beneficiaries. Dr Kakuru adds that as an association, they had already resolved that their money be saved with MURBS. He however adds that for each person to choose his or her preferred scheme is also welcomed.