Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has formally written to the Speaker of Parliament returning the National Social Security Fund Bill, 2019 with proposals for amendment.
Oulanyah revealed the contents of Museveni’s letter dated 26th August, 2021 during the Tuesday plenary sitting saying that he had received the letter on the same day.
“I received the National Social Security Fund (Amendment) Act, 2019 for assent, however, following numerous appeals from workers, trade unions, who are the contributors to the fund…I held several meetings with their leaders, technical people from the Ministries of Finance, Gender and the NSSF…it has been agreed that the Bill should be returned to parliament for reconsideration,” read part of the President’s letter.
The Bill had endorsed a proposal for the government to allow savers who have clocked 45 years and had saved for 10 years to access 20 percent of their savings. After several months of back and forth with the fund managers and workers, the President said he would only assent to the Bill with amendments.
In his letter to Speaker Oulanyah, the President says that the commencement date of the Act needs to be amended so that it comes into force on the date of its publication in the gazette.
Museveni says that allowing midterm access for all members who are 45 years and above or those who have saved for 10 years increases the total number of members eligible to access midterm which would be unsustainable for the fund.
In regard to supervision of the Fund, the President says that the supervision of the Fund should remain under the Ministry of Finance.
“Sometime back I wrote to the former Speaker of Parliament about the need for the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to supervise the Fund as opposed to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development or both. The problem with splitting the supervisory role is that, apart from delaying decision making, it will create room for corruption. It is also evident, that the Fund has grown its portfolio under the supervision of Ministry of Finance,” Museveni noted.
The President also noted that the managing director of the Fund should have a right to vote in decision making by the Board is.
However, Oulanyah said that the NSSF Bill matter is no longer with the Eleventh Parliament as per his ruling last week regarding the lapse of all pending business of the Tenth Parliament. He said that the Bill will only be considered when it is tabled afresh and the President’s letter will be used for reference by the relevant committee.
The Speaker also said that a motion proposed by the Chairperson of Public Accounts Committee- PAC Central Government, Medard Lubega Sseggona to have reports of the Attorney General passed by the Tenth Parliament to be recalled would not be considered by the Eleventh Parliament.
In response, Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition said that lapsing of parliament business is a serious indictment on parliament’s methods of work given the cost of processing Bills.
He said that Parliament’s Rules Committee needs to urgently revisit rules regarding reinstatement of business.
Mpuuga noted that private members meet a lot of costs to process and move a Bill in parliament and that these efforts should not be frustrated.
Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Kira Municipality MP said that the number of Bills that have by the Speaker’s ruling collapsed are unprecedented in the history of parliament.
He said that these Bills include even those presented by government and contributed to by Ministers and only to be later returned by the President or lapse.
Wilfred Niwagaba, the Shadow Attorney General took to the floor and noted that he intends to bring a substantive motion under Rule 87 to vary the Speaker’s ruling especially in respect to business that had not gone to the President so that the business that was still pending in committees can be reinstated.
However, Oulanyah rejected Niwagaba’s request saying that his proposed motion would be in violation of Rule 235 (4) which requires it to come in the second sitting of the first session of Parliament.
Oulanyah however said that he would be giving guidance on a case by case basis in regard to business that was pending before committees.
The Speaker asked MPs to put the matter to rest and allow the Attorney General re-introduce the Bills and parliament committees assess them.
“Why are we behaving as if the last parliament has sanctioned this parliament to inherit permanently without amendment, what it has done?” Oulanyah questioned.
The Speaker said that he trusts the current leadership and MPs to committees in the Eleventh parliament to carry out the necessary assessment of the Bills.
Besides the NSSF Bill, the others affected by the Speaker’s decision are the Sexual Offences Bill, the Succession Bill, The National Health Insurance, The Fisheries Amendment Bill, 2020, and National Climate Change Bill, 2020, Anti-Slavery Bill 2020, National Local Content Bill, the Real Estates Bill 2020, the Estates of Missing Persons (Management) Amendment Bill 2019, Land Lord and Tenant Bill 2019, Marriage and Divorce Bill 2015, the Succession Amendment Bill 2020 and others.