Finance Ministry Denies Withdrawing Pension Reform Bill

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In short
The Ministry of Finance has denied media reports that it is withdrawing a bill making proposals to liberalize the pension sector in Uganda. In a statement issued last evening, Keith Muhakanizi, the Secretary to the Treasury, insisted that the bill was not being withdrawn but rather being reviewed to “make recommendations on what needs to be changed, reworded or strengthened.”

The Ministry of Finance has denied media reports that it is withdrawing a bill making proposals to liberalize the pension sector in Uganda.
 
In a statement issued last evening, Keith Muhakanizi, the Secretary to the Treasury, insisted that the bill was not being withdrawn but rather being reviewed to “make recommendations on what needs to be changed, reworded or strengthened.”
 
Muhakanizi says that since the Ministry of Finance which sponsored the bill has not recommended withdrawing or shelving, the Bill remains a property of Parliament. He says they are now waiting for the small technical committee to submit its “recommendations on the Clauses of the Bill.”
 
Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka had earlier confirmed to URN that the bill would not be withdrawn.
 
The Retirements Benefits Liberalisation Bill, 2011, is currently at committee level in parliament and has received opposition from Trade Unions and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). The bill seeks to open up the pensions sector, with people eventually making the decision to save with another fund that is not NSSF if they want to. It also proposes to repeal the NSSF Act, which makes it mandatory for companies with five or more employees to contribute towards NSSF. Savings would still be mandatory for some, but savers have the option of picking a fund of their choice.
 
Those opposed to the bill, like workers unions, want it withdrawn as passing it in its current format doesn’t protect workers interests and will expose member funds to high risk ventures.
 
Muhakanizi reveals that a committee was formed to draft proposals and amendments to the bill. The committee is chaired by Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender. It comprises of officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA), Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, NSSF, Federation of Uganda Employers, office of the Solicitor General, Ministry of Public Service, and Trade Unions.
 
Muhakanizi describes the process as healthy since those who felt left out of the consultative process can have their input into the proposed law. He revealed that the committee has so far met twice this month. The recommendations will then be submitted to the sponsoring ministries, Finance and Labour, who would later present them to the committee in parliament.
 
The process of discussing this bill has had protracted arguments from both sides, which has caused a delay in its passing. The regulator, URBRA has often said it lacks the “teeth to bite” at the moment to adequately protect workers savings. The regulator interim CEO, Moses Bekabye has insisted that passing the bill would give the authority more power to supervise investments, protect savings and impose fines on errant funds.

 

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