Workers MPs, Speaker Oulanyah meet as pressure mounts on govt over NSSF Bill

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Workers MP Hon Margaret Rwabushaija; Courtesy Photo

By Mary Asujo

Workers representatives in parliament today met Speaker Jacob Oulanyah as pressure mounts on government over the plight of the National Social Security (NSSF) Bill following the speakers decision to have all pending bills re-tabled afresh.

The MPs also expressed displeasure accusing the speaker for taking “a critical decision” without consulting them as worker’s representatives.

The MPs led by the Workers MP, Margaret Rwabushaija Namubiru said, being a government bill, the legislators want it re-tabled before the house, to enable workers in the country navigate through the COVID-19 challenges.

In February this year, parliament passed the National Social Security Fund Bill, 2019 which will among other provisions, allows contributors aged 45 and above, have mid-term access to their savings. President Yoweri Museveni, however, refused to assent to it and later directed the minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development Betty Amongi to make changes to the bill and return it for consent.

In a turn of events, recently, the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah directed that all Bills passed by the 10th Parliament but not assented to by the President, be tabled afresh.

Hon Rwabushaija added that it was “unpleasant” for the Speaker, Rt Hon Jacob Oulanyah, to make this decision without consulting worker’s MPs.

According to the law, the NSSF is time-barred and MPs say it is the reason they are now demanding the Attorney General and the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to work around the clock and ensure that they bring the NSSF bill to parliament for reinstatement.

The MPs want the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah to move faster with this bill, adding that they don’t want to see workers suffer more because they saved their money to be able to help them in time of need.

Agnes Kunihira, also Workers MP, explained that they were disappointed that much as they have done a lot, the objective has not been achieved. Hon Kunihira assured journalists that as workers representatives, they are working tooth and nail to ensure that the workers get what belongs to them.

Abdu Byakatonda, another Workers Representative, told journalists that the Speaker assured them that the bill will move and it will be passed within a short time. He appealed to the workers to remain calm and patient as they (MPs) continue with the lobbying because there is hope that the bill will be passed very soon.

The Chairman General of National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU), Usher Wilson Owere, who also was part of today’s meeting, said that their engagement with the Speaker demonstrates that there is hope that the Bill will be passed.

Owere however warned politicians to desist from using this bill to pursue personal benefits because the main objective is to see that workers transform their lives with their savings.

The NSSF bill was tabled in 2019 by the state minister for Youth and Children Affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, It proposed 29 amendments to expand social security coverage through mandatory contributions of all workers regardless of the size of the enterprise or number of workers.

It also seeks to establish a stakeholder board, provide for midterm access to voluntary contributions and enhance fines.

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