By Lawrence Kazooba
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) this week unveiled a webbased whistleblower platform for aggrieved employees to report their employers who fail to remit their contributions to the Fund as required by the law.
The move ideally is noble, but, the Richard Byarugaba headed Fund doesn’t have a moral fabric to follow through the policy.
It is important to note that NSSF Uganda has always had a whistle blower policy; unfortunately, it has always been abused by the Fund’s bosses and staff. In many instances NSSF has not served whistleblowers to their satisfaction.
NSSF says more than 25,000 employers are meant to pay NSSF contributions, yet only 13,000 are complying, and only 8,900 are consistently remitting the contributions for their employees.
The NSSF management knows this and they know the addresses of each of these employers. Why don’t they follow them up?
And the few cases in court have not been successful prosecuted. And this is not because they don’t have resources to do so, but, simply, there is no good will to follow through.
The other matter is that employers collude with NSSF staff to either adjust what they ought to pay to the Fund or they protect these employers for personal gain.
If the Fund was serious with the whistleblowers policy, many employers would be complying since there have been several complaints registered at the various branches of NSSF across the country.
The law is clear on the matter of paying NSSF. And like NSSF MD Richard Byarugaba says, “It is illegal for an employer to withhold their employees’ social security contributions.”
However, a significant number of workers are being cheated out of their benefits by their employers and the Fund has resources, to stop this.
Bad past experience with whistleblowers
The unveiling of the whistleblowers platform comes at the back of recent reports in which whistle blowers were frustrated.
NSSF MD Byarugaba in 2013 had this stone in the shoe. A whistle-blower had petitioned the Inspector General of Government Irene Mulyagonja to probe him and his juniors.
The whistleblower alleged that corruption of the highest order coupled with flouting of procedures and influence peddling in processes was taking place at NSSF by top managers.
Among the things that the whistle-blower alleged include accusations that top managers at NSSF flout and disregard laid down procedures for personal interests. Byarugaba was singled out for taking a trip to watch Formula One in Dubai at the facilitation of Sudhir Ruparelia after the tycoon’s Speke Resort Munyonyo got some wavers from its NSSF contributions.
The other people pinned was the then Corporation Secretary David Nambale who has since moved on.
The dossier to the IGG said there was “a complicated system of giving waivers on contributions to selected companies and in turn this money is shared by the top managers and their front men in NSSF.”
It went further to name the officer in charge of the cartel who was the then manager Contributions, Hez Alinda. Alinda has also moved on.
However, Byarugaba called these allegations “ridiculous” since he was one of the subjects of investigations. Now, who does he want whistleblowers to report about?
The whistle-blower named among other companies SBI M/s Soleh Boneh international holdings AG whose unpaid contributions of Shs360m was reduced to Shs60m under unclear circumstances. The others were Spencon and Roko Technical services ltd, MCRL and SGH.
The whistle-blower said there was overwhelming evidence “that these characters have amassed a lot of wealth which cannot be accounted for” claiming Hez Alinda raised a building in Hoima town.
The NSSF ACT does not give anyone powers to give wavers regarding employee contributions although the MD has discretion to reduce on the penalties. So, Let’s wait to see how this new platform will operate.