Gov’t Defends Liberalisation of Fragile Pension Sector

Kabale Chief Magistrate’s Court has today set December 5th, patient for the ruling in the case where ‘For God and My Country’ (4GC) Leaders are accused of inciting violence in July 2012.

They are facing charges of inciting violence, health damaging police cars and also injuring four police officers.

They allegedly committed the crimes on July 14th while speaking at an FDC rally held at Kabale Municipal Main stadium.

The Opposition Leaders who appeared before court include Former FDC President, Rtd. Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye, Kawempe Division Mayor Mubarak Munyagwa, embattled Kampala Lord Mayor Elias Lukwago.

Others include Ingrid Kamateneti Turinawe the chairperson of the FDC women’s League, Rukungiri Municipality MP, Roland Mugume Kaginda and Imam Makumbi, the Democratic Party chairperson for western Uganda.

The Opposition leaders arrived at the Magistrates court amidst tight security and shortly after they had entered, the police stopped more people from accessing the court room saying the area had become over-congested.

Proceedings that started at 10:30 am in the packed court room went on up 1:00 pm.

It was during this time that the prosecution presented detective ASP Kalinkiza Gumisiriza, the officer in charge of the Criminal investigations intelligence Directorate at Kabale Police station as their first Witness.

During cross examination with the Defense Counsel, Wilfred Murrumba of Murrumba and Mastiko Company advocates, the Police officer contradicted himself on several occasions prompting the Defense team to ask court to dismiss the case on grounds that there were irregularities on the charge sheet.
The officer stunned Court when he said that he was among those who were trying to direct the crowd Outside the Municipal Stadium shortly after saying that he was inside the stadium at the time the crowd left and had been hit by a Sandal thrown by the locals.

Also his utterrance that he was protecting his Job angered the defense counsel who accused him of not abiding by the truth but instead focusing on protecting the interests of the ruling National Resistance Movement.

The disagreements between the two sides saw the defense counsel filing in a preliminary objection over the authenticity of the charge sheet which he says only mentions that a total of four police officers were injured in the Violence but does not mention the particulars of those injured.

The Presiding Magistrate, Her Worship Marry Babirye decided to adjourn the case to December 5th 2014 when she will give her ruling on the submission by the defense counsel.

Imam Makumbi and Col. Kiiza Besigye who were making their first plea in the case were granted 5 million non-Cash bail each.

Lydia Turyahumura the Kabale district FDC chairperson and Leopold Twesigye the Kigongi ward councilor in Kabale Municipality stood surety for Rtd. Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye while Goodluck Musinguzi, a Journalist and Emmanuel Arinaitwe a Kabale based businessman stood surety for Imam Makumbi.
Others leaders only had their bail extended.

After the Court session, Former FDC president Rtd. Col. Dr. Kiiza Besisgye told the press that the Court was full of drama and that he was not surprised that the Police was trying to frame charges against them.

He said that he wonders why the Police and the state had never preferred any charges against him since 2012 when he allegedly committed the offences and instead did it in 2014.

He says that it was unfortunate for the Police to stop people from accessing Court room saying that it was a sign that there was no transparency.

Embattled Kampala Lord Mayor Elias Lukwaga said that they were charged of inciting people to get rid of President Museveni which he said was baseless.

He further said that it is regrettable for a government of the people to hide from its citizens.

Kigezi Regional Police spokesperson Elly Maate says that the Police never aimed at stopping the locals from accessing the court Premises but instead had to ensure that those who were already in premises were secure.

He said that the Police had for long been talking of the terror threat and that since hundreds of people had gathered in the area, the Police could not take chances and that their actions were for the safety of everybody.


4GC leaders addressing journalists after court

4GC leaders addressing journalists after court

4GC leaders appear before Kabale Chief Magistrate's Court

4GC leaders appear before Kabale Chief Magistrate’s Court

Liberalization of pension sector is expected to raise a staggering Shs 12 trillion -down from Shs 4 trillion which is currently being collected by National Social Security Fund (NSSF), view officials said Monday amid growing unease over the planned move to open up the sensitive sector to private equity firms.

Addressing journalists on Monday at Serena Hotel, check Kampala, Moses Bekabye, the interim Executive Director of Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA), the body which oversees the pension sector, only 30 percent of Ugandans’ financial contributions is being tapped by NSSF due to currently inadequate government policy framework.

Now the URBRA is strongly advocating for pension reforms to liberalize the sector including removing the threshold of making it mandatory for only companies with five workers and above to remit funds to the pension body in the current arrangement.

The reforms, according to Mr. Bekabye, will make pension bodies climb up to 90 percent contribution collections from Ugandans which is equivalent of Shs 12tn.

“We are at the final stages of presenting to Parliament pension reforms to liberalize sector and make it drastically efficient than before,” Mr. Bekabye told journalists at Serena Hotel.

The reforms are being spearheaded by the ministry of Finance through the retirement benefits sector liberalization Bill 2011 and in conjunction with ministries of Public Service and Gender, Labor and Social Development.

Proponents of the new arrangement hold that due to massive changes in the population demographics of Ugandans and costs of living, government investments in pension has increasingly found it hard to keep some of the promises it makes to its senior citizens, resulting in perennial pension arrears.

They further cite issues like poor governance, where people’s savings have been lost in bad and risky NSSF investments; lack of fiscal sustainability and inadequate pensions, leading to people’s disorientation from the saving tradition.

Opponents on the other hand maintain that by playing Uganda’s social security in the hands of the private sector, government threatens the very existence of NSSf.

They say that the Bill is in abdication of government’s responsibility to guarantee social security for all its citizens and instead turning it into a profit business competed for by the private sector.

Acting NSSF Managing Director Mrs Geraldine Ssali recently said the Fund is nonetheless prepared to operate under the new arrangement and would take on the new competition from the new companies and schemes

“If it’s about competition, we are ready,” she noted.

“We have been undergoing reorganization for the last two years to make ourselves efficient, our customer care is now perfect and people can count on us.”

Mrs Ssali added that the Fund has improved its compliance levels (the number of private employers who actually contribute to their workers’ NSSF savings) to 84 percent and plans to grow this to 95 percent by close of this year.

The Fund currently boosts of over 35000 members and a total 1.3 million which includes all others who have registered in hope to become members.

“We have substantially grown our products, our Club 55 is on board (a networking financial advisory for members approaching retirement age), out IT section is perfected, we are ready to go,” she said.

She however pointed out that liberalization of the pension sector would come with a number of regrettable ramifications, illustrating with neighbouring Kenya which has just realized and turned back to reconstruct their NSSF.

Officials say the proposed reforms are intended to extend pension coverage to a wider proportion of the Ugandan working population, formulate adequate benefit levels for savers, enforce good governance, accountability and transparency among those who collect and invest workers’ savings.

Bekabye also revealed that of over the 120 retirement benefits firms which have been identified, only 52 including NSSF have been licensed by URBRA, thus the need to open up the sector for the other players to compete with NSSF to promote transparency in the sector.


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