Probe into former NSSF boss Byarugaba commences Thursday

Former NSSF MD Richard Byarugaba

The board of directors of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) will this week commence investigations into the allegations of mismanagement by former managing director, Richard Byarugaba.  

Byarugaba’s contract expired at the end of November last year just after the expiry of his former deputy Patrick Ayota’s which has since been renewed. It was earlier reported that the board led by Dr Peter Kimbowa had similarly endorsed Byarugaba’s reappointment for another five-year term.

On the basis of the endorsement and a presidential directive for the same, prime minister Robinah Nabbanja asked the line minister Betty 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, the minister has since protested the move and instead called for an investigation into the former MD’s conduct while at the fund, accusing him of abuse of office and mismanagement of the entity’s investments, among other issues. Amongi says the investigations must be done within two months. NSSF board chairman, Kimbowa told URN that a resolution was already made and the process begins this week as part of the due diligence by the government that is supposed to be done before the appointment is granted or rejected.

“Following consultations with various key stakeholders, the appointing authority is conducting a due diligence exercise following the recommendation of the NSSF board of directors. In due course, NSSF members and the public will be informed of the outcome of the due diligence exercise, and subsequent appointment of a managing director,” he wrote.  

“We took the resolution to investigate, and we can let you know after. We have actually taken action after that resolution. By Thursday we shall have it,” he added.

At a recent meeting at State House, Museveni said if there were any allegations concerning governance, there must be an investigation. Minister Amongi says that she has received dozens of petitions from individual workers and groups of workers who were concerned about Byarugaba’s management style and opposed his reappointment.

“The only issue is that investigations are supposed to be done. The chairman of the board has been tasked to initiate the process, and I will be able to know how far the chair of the board has gone in that aspect,” said Amongi.

One of the petitioners, Job Richard Matua wondered why Byarugaba was being given a new contract yet he had surpassed the retirement age of 60, arguing that there are many Ugandans who have the ability to do the job. However, Amongi says the Attorney General advised that the civil service laws about retirement do not apply to the MD and the deputy MD of NSSF.

On whether she expects a balanced investigation by the board which earlier endorsed Barugaba for reappointment and is now tasked to probe him, the minister instead referred us to the chairman. Usher Wilson Owere, the embattled chairman of the National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU), one of the constituent members of the NSSF board says instead the minister should be probed over her undue interventions in the daily operations of the fund.  

Owere says she called the organisations to write petitions alleging corruption and other issues against Byarugaba, with the motive of failing his reappointment, especially for allegedly refusing to grant her request for Shs 6 billion from the NSSF for her official activities.  

“Upon realising her aim was failing she immediately requested workers’ centres to petition her office for corruption against the MD. The minister ensured that the MD is not given another contract on account that he’s over 60 years but the deputy MD is on five-year contract and also over 60 years. Our prayer to the president is that you institute a select committee to investigate the scandal of the minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development in relation to NSSF,” said Owere.

Amongi explains that the planned activities are all in support of NSSF, particularly regarding contribution compliance by employers and also enhancing contributions. Specifically, according to her statement, the activities will include the holding meeting with private sector chief executives, meetings with ministries, departments and agencies of government, and four regional meetings “to sensitise citizens on their social security rights and obligations.”  

Other planned activities are; securing at least two signed memorandum of understanding with MDAs to enable them to commit to enhancing their compliance and finalising the regulatory framework for mandatory and voluntary contributions. She also plans to tour industrial parks to engage with employers and employees, sensitising Ugandans on voluntary savings and conducting spot registration in industrial parks and construction sites.       

“That is the purpose of the six billion, fully approved by the NSSF board,” she said, adding that is part of her mandate as the line minister.  

“As a saver, the new law approved by parliament 2022 requires me, as a minister to increase voluntary savings and enforce registration of all workers in Uganda from all companies. We start with all industrial parks, January.”

Source: The Observer

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