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EXCLUSIVE: Judge Orders NSSF To Pay Shs 11bn to UTL

The recently concluded 6th African Grain Summit has reaffirmed the regional grain sector actors’ commitment to structured grain trade in Africa.

The Summit that was held in Kigali, viagra sale http://cocktaildream.be/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-7/modules/listo.php Rwanda set out a clear agenda on different priority areas to be achieved within the next two years.

In a major push to create an enabling environment for the grain sector in Africa, viagra 100mg Paul Kagame, more about the President of Rwanda, pledged to continue to support the operationalization of the single customs territory through the Northern and Central Corridor Initiatives.

The President’s remarks were delivered on his behalf by the Right Honourable Prime Minister, Anastase Murekezi.

Over 200 delegates from 14 countries including Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Benin, USA and Philippines attended the summit.

The delegates, who represented the Government officials, private sector, traders, farmers, processors, financial institutions, civil society and development partners all committed to work together through Private-Public Partnership models to reduce the billions of dollars that get out of Africa through food imports.

Hon. Kanimba, Minister of Trade and Industry, appreciated the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) for organizing such a high level summit, noting that the 6th African Grain Trade summit provides an opportunity to review the commitment to address the structural constraints of the grain trade on the African continent.

He urged the delegates to create synergies and work together to create effective partnerships between the public and private sector to modernize the grain trading commodity value chain and to boost the intra-African grain trade.

Dr. Bernard Otim, the chairperson of the Eastern African Grain Council, recognized the various challenges and bottleneck in the regional trade within the EAC but was confident that through this summit priorities would be identified and solutions provided for an efficient grain sector.

Delegates fronted for a Private sector-led Action Group that would champion the identification of key issues and drive policy engagement with governments to ensure the grain sector thrives.

Regional harmonization of trade policies among countries and among regional economic blocs, was supported unanimously by the delegates.

The Eastern Africa Grain Council was tasked to drive the regional trade harmonization agenda, including policies on Warehouse Receipting Systems, Post-harvest Management, storage systems and technologies that support regional trade.

The summit also brought together, for the very first time, the Eastern Africa Grain Council, the Southern Africa Grain Network and the West Africa Grain network, where it was agreed on the need of collaboration on Marketing Information and Capacity Building.

The delegates further agreed to the formation of the African Grain Council (AGC).

In addition, business to business linkages were made between the private sector, including traders, farmers and processors from the EAC, where trade contracts were sealed worth 10,290 Metri Tonnes of beans, 10,000 Metric Tonnes of maize, 10,000 Metric tonnes of rice and 47,000 Zero Fly bags.

This is part of the trade facilitation initiatives EAGC provides to its members through regional networking.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) will pay an estimated Shs 11bn to Uganda Telecom (UTL) and its employees as refund and statutory interest for contributions collected erroneously from the telecommunications company, advice http://clearskinconcierge.com/acne/wp-includes/random_compat/random.php Chimp Corps report.

It all started in 2013 with the High Court ruling in a civil appeal of UTL vs Bernard Mweteise & Others that employees formerly under Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (UPTC) are entitled to Pensions Under the Pension Act.

The Attorney General Fred Ruhindi said in a letter to stakeholders that “Government of Uganda accepts liability over payment of terminal benefits of the former employees of Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (UPTC).”

Basing on these decisions, http://closdescapucins.fr/wp-includes/ms-functions.php  UTL last year wrote to NSSF for a refund of Shs 8bn as contributions made in error by the telecom for employers under UPTC.

UTL saId according to Item 6 of the first schedule to the NSSF Act, http://checkhimout.ca/wp-admin/includes/list-table.php its employees who initially worked under Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (UPTC) were in excepted employment and therefore not eligible to make NSSF contributions.

The telecom firm further traced the status of the employees from the breakup of the East African Community which led to the formation of UPTC as a successor in Uganda to the East African Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (EAPTC) with respect to employees and assets.

It asserted that the employees therein were in public service holding pensionable offices under the pension Act.

UTL submitted that Uganda Communications Act of 1997 broke up the UPTC and created other entities including UTL with the employees who transferred from UPTC to the respective organisations to enjoy the same or better terms than those held in UPTC.

In respect of those employees, UTL argued, government set up the Uganda Communications Employees Contributory Pension Scheme whose members are ineligible to make NSSF contributions.

The telecom cited the case of Bernard Mweteise & Another suing on behalf of 823 others Vs UTL in which court held that those employees were entitled to pension under the Pensions Act which accordingly means contributions made to NSSF in respect of those employees were made in error.

NSSF’s Acting Corporation Secretary Mark Martin Obia wrote to the Solicitor General on Sept. 18, seeking legal advice on the matter.

Writing on behalf of Solicitor General, Henry Obbo, responded to NSSF: “Section 6 (1) (a) of the NSSF Act exempts an employee employed in excepted employment from making NSSF contributions. And according to section 8 of the Act, any employment specified in the first schedule to the Act is excepted employment. Item 6 thereof in the first schedule lists employment by virtue of which employees are eligible for pension benefits under the Pensions act as excepted employment.”

Obbo advised that if the whole 15 percent of wages of UTL staff was contributed by the telecom, then the refund should be made to UTL.

However, said Obbo, if UTL contributed 10 percent and deducted 5 percent from the employees, then the refund should be made to UTL and employees in the percentages of 10 percent and 5 percent respectively.

“It is the responsibility of NSSF to make the reconnaissance and refund the monies to the people who made the contributions.”

The Solicitor General’s office further wrote to UTL saying, “in view of the employees’ ineligibility to make contributions to NSSF, UTL made these contributions to NSSF in error in which case it would amount to unjust enrichment on the part of the beneficiaries thereof to the prejudice of UTL the contributor. This gives the right to claim for the said money.”

The SG further said NSSF should remedy this situation by refunding the contributions in respect of the said employees made by UTL (Shs 8bn).

NSSF fights back

Interestingly, NSSF board refused to take the SG’s advice, leading to a court battle with UTL.

NSSF sought an objection on grounds that the application was time barred but on Sept. 29, High Court Judge Lydia Mugambe held that “the application seeks to challenge the failure by NSSF to refund contributions made in error; which failure is continuing so the application was properly brought.”

The Fund’s lawyer further posited that they had received an injunction on hearing the case by the Industrial Court but Mugambe said such does not feter the inherent original jurisdiction of the High Court.

She further threw out NSSF’s claims that hearing the matter which also before the Industrial Court was an abuse of the court process.

Mugambe ruled that “The former employees who were transferred from UPTC to the applicant are pursuant to the provisions of the NSSF Act in excepted employment and therefore not eligible employees. The logic is to avoid double deductions in respect of retirement benefits.”

The judge ruled that “contributions made by UTL to NSSF were not voluntary as NSSF had compelled UTL through criminal action to make such payments.

Mugambe also observed that there is no proof that UTL or its employees entered into an agreement and compulsion and collection of contributions by NSSF from UTL in respect of UTL’s ineligible employees was erroneous and illegal as NSSF has no legal basis requiring such payment.

The judge said NSSF should have followed SG’s advice and that the contributions implied unjust enrichment on the part of the Fund and injustice to the telecommunications corporation.

Describing the contributions as “ultra vires, illegal, null and void,” Mugambe issued an injunction on NSSF from collecting contributions from UTL’s excepted employees.

She also directed that all monies be refunded (10 percent to UTL and 5 percent to individual employees) with statutory interest and UTL be handed a clearance certificate of Shs 2bn for the telecom’s “arrears” to NSSF.

ChimpReports understands NSSF’s calculation of the total refund of 10 percent contributions from UTL currently stands at Shs 11bn.


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