MBARARA – The National Social Security Fund [ NSSF ] newly appointed managing director, Patrick Ayota, in an ongoing campaign, has encouraged employers in the informal sector to register their employees with the Fund.
While meeting local government leaders and labour inspectors from western Uganda on Saturday, Ayota said they are traversing across the country to improve compliance and encourage workers in the informal sector to voluntarily save for the future.
Ayoti said only 1.7 million in Uganda have contributed Shs 18.5 trillion to the NSSF. Under the NSSF Act, an employee in the formal sector contributes 5 percent of their monthly salary to NSSF while an employer adds 10 percent for his employee.
He attributed the low remittance to the biggest working population hiding in the informal sector, which he said NSSF is looking forward to unlocking it. The new NSSF Act requires those workers in the informal sector to save with the Fund any amount they can afford.
He added: “We cannot focus only on the formal sector, we have to get the 7.5 mln people stuck in the informal sector, such as boda boda riders, farmers and make them save with the Fund.” Ayota said.
He added that over 50 percent of the working people earn less than Shs 250,000 per month which should not stop them from saving with the Fund. “It does not matter whether you are in the formal or informal sector. What matters is putting aside a little for saving because every money you save with the Fund counts and over time it’s worth it,” Ayota said.
He said NSSF targets at least 50 percent of the working by 2025, adding that saving with the Fund can help the country avoid foreign loans.
“We have to mobilise and have long-term savings and NSSF wants your support. If you do then we can fund development projects using our own money without begging countries like China, America,” he said.
Lawrence Tumwebaze, western regional manager NSSF reported that most businesses in the region are registered with Uganda Registration Services Bureau [URSB] but many don’t make remittances to NSSF as required by law.
“Very few employers are active in NSSF which shows that however much many companies register, they don’t do formal business, they don’t file returns to URSB, they don’t remit to NSSF, they don’t pay taxes to URA, so we have a lot of work to do,” he said.
Richard Mirembe, senior labour officer Kabarole district challenged NSSF staff to stop working in isolation. “Your employees are not visible in the field they tend to operate in isolation so how do you tell us to help increase remittances when we are working in parallel? Mirembe said.
Robert Kanusu, resident city commissioner Mbarara City North said commended NSSF officials for reach out to local leaders in a bid to make workers in the informal sector contribute to the Fund.
He however encouraged NSSF to establish more investments so that they create more jobs, especially for the youth. “It is one of the roles of NSSF to spearhead investments and motivate the people to also become investors,” he said.
The Minister of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, Betty Amongi said the partnership with district leaders will unlock companies that have not complied with the NSSF Act.
“It is important to leverage on existing government institutions because NSSF might not be able to reach every district in Uganda,” she said, adding that political leaders have a big role to play if Ugandans are embrace the culture of saving for the future.
Amongi appealed to local leaders and labour officers to avoid receiving bribes from entities that want to dodge paying NSSF remittances.
“I ask labour officers in the districts and cities to be patriotic. Support the workers, don’t go for brown envelopes and fail to do what you are supposed to do in line with the law. A company might have 1,000 workers but they offer you Shs 500,000 so that you under-declare the number of workers. you will be liable for causing financial loss to government,” she said.
Currently, NSSF has 17 branches in the country, with 1.7 mln members but the Fund is now targeting 50 percent of the working population and savings of Shs 50 trillion by 2025.
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