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WHERE IS THE WORKERS’ MONEY? Stop Writing Misleading, Alarmist, Dishonest And Unprofessional Letters – Workers MP Calls NSSF Boss A Hitman Who Wants To Grab Savers Money….

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Dr. Sam Lyomoki and NSSF boss Richard Byarugaba (inset)

Workers Member of Parliament Dr. Sam Lyomoki has branded National Socials Security Fund (NSSF) boss as an economic hitman who wants to steal workers saving.

In a letter to the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development dated 12th May, 2020, Dr. Lyomoki says that Brarugaba’s letter to the same ministry explaining why the fund cannot pay 20% to each saver to sail them through the tough Covid19 time was misleading, irregular, alarmist, dishonest and unprofessional.

Dr. Lyomoki rallied savers to follow this debate keenly and where necessary be ready to come to camp at Parliament and at the NSSF offices at Workers House should NSSF continue with their callous attempts to block or delay the process.

Below is his letter:

The right position on the proposed midterm access by NSSF savers

What does the proposal for midterm access entail?

  1. Fellow citizens in the next few days, and as guided by the Right Hon Speaker, Parliament has to pronounce itself on the question of allowing savers under NSSF a small part of their savings. We are not talking of these savers accessing government or someone else’s money but their own money earned in sweat and blood. We are not even talking of them accessing all but a very small portion of their money, actually as small as less than 20% of it. And again, we are not saying that everyone saving with NSSF shall automatically qualify for this money but those who wish to and who must be 45 years of age and above or have saved for at least for 10 years if they are not yet 45years of age.
  1. Our analysis shows that as of March 31, 2020, NSSF had a total member portfolio of 11.4trillion. There were about 150,000 members between 45 and 55 of age and holding approximately3.7 trillion shs, 20% of which amounts to 740 billion shs. Subjecting this to another condition “of at least 10 years of savings”, reduces the exposure to almost that number almost half, i.e. about 370billion shs. The Fund can carry out an actuarial study now and handle this. The Audit Report of December2019 showed that if the Fund was to pay out 20% of members of 45 years, it would spend 300bn, which is affordable as the Fund collects over 100bn a month.
  1. To avoid the Fund running out of money we have further proposed many other safeguards that include liquidity or availability of cash with the Fund and the technical veto by the management of the Fund in accordance to guidelines approved by the Board and the responsible government ministry.

Misleading, irregular and alarmist missive by NSSF MD

  1. The processing of an amendment to the law to make this possible started long before our current COVID19 challenge and our cry now is that this can no longer wait.
  2. However, there is now a misleading, irregular, alarmist, dishonest and unprofessional letter by the Managing Director of the NSSF Board, Richard Byarugaba, written to the Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development, against the same. In this letter and in an obvious attempt to negatively bias decision, Mr. Byarugaba deliberately premises his analysis on a wrong assumption that our proposal for midterm access is for an unconditional 20% drawn down at a go on the about 13 Trillion portfolios of the Fund translating to about 2.6Trillion.
  3. Obviously, such a reckless irresponsible proposition would be untenable due to lack of liquidity and would also lead to serious ramifications both to the members and the financial systems as ably and correctly articulated in his analysis. However, that misleading approach is not what our midterm proposal seeks. Our midterm proposal has considered this especially the numbers regarding savers 45 years and above of who have saved for at least 10 years as already analysed. We note that Mr. Byarugaba’s analysis deliberately ignores this, and the previous discussions, concessions and proposed safeguards relating to the proposed midterm access. Mr. Byarugaba even couldn’t bother to consult the Board given that his controversial stance now appears to contradict the official position of the Board.
  1. NSSF is a social security institution and therefore her core mandate is social protection and so our argument for midterm access is scientific and in tandem with the ILO Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102). The internationally agreed instrument, benchmark and minimum standard for the very basic social security principles, that establishes nine branches of social security to wit medical care; sickness benefit; unemployment benefit; old-age benefit; employment injury benefit; family benefit; maternity benefit; invalidity benefit; and survivors’ benefit.
  1. In our case as Uganda, under the current National Social Security Fund Act, 1985, we have only 5 levels of benefits (i.e. age, withdrawal, invalidity, emigration grant, survivors’) that translate to only 3 (i.e. age, invalidity and survivors’) under the ILO standard. The implication of this is that we are still to actualize the remaining 6 benefits i.e. medical care; sickness benefit; unemployment benefit; employment injury benefit; family benefit and maternity benefit.
  1. Consequently, our proposal for midterm access, and to allow the management and board of NSSF flexibility and liberty in introducing new lines of benefits, is to allow a window of opportunity within the scope of the ILO standard taking into consideration the liquidity of the Fund and prevailing national circumstances.

Anyone arguing that this shall erode the fund is either more concerned with servicing economic interests or isn’t well grounded in the core and purpose of the Fund.

Having a monument and a powerful NSSF with an ever-increasing financial muscle without this translating into the best social security of members is handing over a hitherto social security institute to economic hitmen.

 

Lies and myths by economic hitmen

  1. As we address the social security interests of workers we continue to encounter and deal with lies and myths peddled by economic hitmen whose major interest is to grab a chuck of the workers money.
  2. As of now we are still faced with another serious controversy and standoff that has led to the two Parliamentary committees handling this bill to be stuck with the report and so we can’t proceed to the 2nd and 3rd reading. The controversy arose from what the government had proposed to cure the ‘mischief” of the balance between the economic and social security interests.
  1. In the current NSSF Act, NSSF is supposed to be under the ministry responsible for social security. The function and mandate of social security is under ministry responsible for labour currently under the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGL&SD). In 2003, H.E the President, in his wisdom, administratively transferred NSSF and placed it under the ministry responsible for Finance, Planning and Economic Development, given the volume of funds managed by the Fund.
  2. However, that transfer created a challenge. Whereas the ministry responsible for finance could handle the economic and investment imperatives of the Fund, that are actually secondary and consequential, that ministry has been incompetent in managing the social security aspects.
  3. The solution was to bring on board the ministry responsible for labour that houses social protection world over. There were 3 options to do this: i) Leave the Fund under finance but transfer the department of labour to finance so you create the ministry of state for labour under MoFPED. ii) Create a dual supervision where both ministries, finance (MoFPED) and labour (MGL&SD) work in a guided way; iii) Revert the Fund to the ministry of Gender, Labour and SocialDevelopment.
  4. I did write to H. E the president giving the 3 scenarios to resolve the challenge. However, H.E the President seems to have not taken my proposal and the situation persisted.
  5. However, in proposing the amendment, cabinet seems to have moved and proposed the 2ndscenario as analysed above. As workers we supported that position as that would resolve the challenge of balancing the economic and social protection interests just like it is worldwide.

Standoff at Parliament

  1. However, as Parliament was concluding the process in the Committee the economic interests lobbied their way and reached out to H.E President who wrote to Parliament guiding that the current situation should remain where the Fund is exclusively under ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development arguing that dual supervision would create confusion. We failed to see the confusion because the mandates of the two ministries were to be outlined by law and indeed this is not the first time or the only entity with such dual supervision.
  2. The approach of leaving NSSF exclusively under MoFPED is dangerous, against social security interests of workers and is being propagated by economic interests at the expense of workers. It is even unnecessary because we now have a supervisory entity, the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA), and so the situation that pertained in the past leading to the transfer of the Fund doesn’t pertain now.
  1. As workers, economic interests have blocked us from having our arguments be understood by the President. Our view is that you can’t delink the ministry responsible for labour from social security. You can only bring in the ministry responsible for finance as a partner with that responsible for labour but not as the sole and main player. The economic interests seem to be misguiding the head of state to the chagrin of workers. However, we are doing our best and it is just a matter of time that the President shall know the truth and he shall be set free from the economic interests.

That’s where the battle line is between economic and social interests with the economic interests wanting to kill the child while the social protection interests seeking to save the child.

Our prayer, has always been that just as Solomon used wisdom to decipher the right mother from the fake one in the bible, God shall grant wisdom to our President to discern that workers and the ministry responsible for labour are the legitimate mothers of social protection.

A call for zeal and action by NSSF savers

Consequently, we alert the savers to follow this debate keenly and where necessary be ready to come and join us ( i.e. Members of Parliament for Workers, leaders of the National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU), Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions (COFTU) and all National Labour Unions, and Workers representatives to the NSSF Board) to camp at Parliament and at the NSSF offices at Workers House should these negative interests continue with their callous attempts to block or delay the process.

 

By Sandra Mukisa

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Balaam Asks For Shs.1billion From Kabushenga Led Kampala Sun For Portraying Him As A Fraudster And Extortionist…

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It seems the troubles of Robert Kabushenga led Vision Group are not about to end.

This is after events promoter and National Resistance Movement (NRM) party diehard Balaam Barugahara threatened to sue them if he is not compensated with Shs.1bn.

Through his lawyers of Isabirye and Company Advocates, Balaam claims that, Vision Group, through its weekly newspaper the Kampala Sun defamed him when they alleged that he was muscling Uganda Cranes players for a share of money allegedly paid to them by President Museveni.

“Needless to say, that the publication was false, baseless and not with any truth but has none the less damaged the reputation of our client in a manner that is irreparable, as when construed and contextualized in its natural, and ordinary meaning, or by innuendo, said article is understood to mean and to suggest that Mr. Balaam Barugahara, our client, is a criminal, an immoral and indefensible man,” Balaam’s lawyers stated in their letters.

They insist that the Kampala Sun article under the headline ‘Balaam harasses Uganda Cranes over Sevo Cash’ negatively impacted on the integrity of their client, demeaned his reputation in his capacity as a businessman and a family man in the eyes of reasonable Ugandans, East Africans, Africans and the world at large to the extent of him being viewed as a fraudster and extortionist.

“In addition to causing him to limit his interaction with his peers, contemporaries, business partners and colleagues in order for him to avoid the contempt and ridicule that he suffers when amongst them, this emotional suffering has caused him to suffer stress and affected his moods and behavior in a depressing manner,” the lawyers added.

They claim that because of such suffering, their client demands a public apology for the claimed false story and compensation of Shs.1bn.

They gave vision group only three days from yesterday to do so.

Last week, Uganda Communications Commissions (UCC) suspended Urban TV’s Scoop on Scoop gossip show after socialite Sheilah Gashumba petitioned the commission over defamatory statements from the show host Tina Fierce against her. Urban TV is another Vision Group product. Sheilah also asked for Shs.400 million compensation.

 

By Jamil Lutakome

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COCA COLA IN TROUBLE: Distributors Bitter At Beverage Company For Supplying Smelly Green Water, Woman Who Got Stomach Complications After Drinking Rwenzori Takes Them On…

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Melkamu Abebe General Manager, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda. Inset are pictures of the bottles and cans containing green smelly water.

A group of Rwenzori mineral water distributors are bitter with Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), the bottlers of Rwenzori mineral water for distributing Green smelly water.

The group told this website that the company distributed batches of 1.5litre mineral water bottles with green water which they deemed dangerous for their clients.

The group further told theGrapevine that batches BB 14NOV 2020 and BAT 135E,0650 (1.5liter bottles) contained smelly water while batch BB 02OCT20, BAT 093 A, 1850 of water in Jumbo cans, the ones that are mounted on water dispensers contained Green water.

The affected areas included Kasangati, Bulenga some areas in the central business district and some upcountry areas.

Some of the bottles of 1.5litres that contained bad water

Multiple sources told the Grapevine that such recklessness is sometimes as a result of not following the proper cleaning procedures when bottling the water.

Recently, a one Rosemary Adong from Kakira took on Rwenzori after she got stomach complications from taking Rwenzori mineral water.

Adong raised dust at the Namanve based plant until the manager bowed in to the pressure. Adong is currently being facilitated by Coca Cola and receiving treatment from Dr. Galukanda in Kampala.

Coca Cola is currently paying her hospital bills and facilitating her with 30,000 as transport refund every time she goes to see Dr. Galukanda.

Some of the jumbo cans on the market that contain green water

Recently, another doctor in Jinja threatened to sue CCBA for distributing water to him that had dangerous particles, he asked for Shs.15 million in damages but the company sat him down and agreed to sort the matter amicably.

When the Grapevine to Simon Kaheru the Public Affairs & Communications Director Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda (Century & Rwenzori Bottling Company), he said, “We have a very straightforward and transparent customer or consumer complaints system. Most of the outlets you mention are our regular customers who would raise such an issue directly on the spot.”

 

By Grapevine reporters

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URA Speaks Out On The Fate Of The New 150 Recruits Who Are Struggling Financially After Resigning From Their Jobs During Covid19 Crisis….

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Uganda Revenue Authority finally speaks out on the fate of the 150 new recruits who were given appointment letters to join the national tax collecting body.

Vincent Seruma the Authority’s Director for corporate affairs and communication said that they know them but the situation right now cannot allow them to accommodate the new recruits.

He explained that due to COVID19 crisis, the Authority was forced to even send half of its staff to work from home.

He noted that they did that to respect the social distancing directive in the fight against COVID19 pandemics.

The soft spoken Seruma disclosed that they explained to the new recruits but it seems they didn’t understand that is why they are running allover claiming that they were dumped.

On the issue of paying them, Seruma said that they will start receiving their salaries and other allowances when they report to their working station.

Over the weekend, over 20 new URA recruits approached this website complaining that they were dumped by their new bosses because of COVID19 crisis.

They said that on 11th March 2020, over 150 of them received appointment letters confirming them as URA staff after going through a series of interviews.

They claimed that all the new recruits, were supposed to work in the domestic and customs department and were supposed to report to their new stations on 23rd march 2020.

They claimed that when the president declared a nationwide lockdown over COVID19 pandemic, their reporting date was extended.

They explained that they went through a lot of financial hardship since many of them had resigned from their previous jobs in the middle of the month of March.

They claimed that since March, they haven’t received any salary from URA and they are now suffering at home. President Museveni declared a cleanup exercise in URA where a number of staff were fired including their boss Doris Akol who was replaced with John Rujoki Musinguzi.

 

By Sengooba Alirabaki

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