There has been a heated public debate on whether the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) can pay some percentage to its members as part of social protection and security measures for the workers to cope up with the COVID-19 Pandemic economic shocks.
According to Uganda’s social development sector plan 2015/16-2019/20, social protection refers to public and private interventions to address risks and vulnerabilities that expose individuals to income insecurity and social deprivation, leading to undignified quality of life.
Social security on the other hand looks at interventions to mitigate income shocks and decline in consumption due to factors such as old age, retirement, permanent disability among others. The NSSF act considers the same factors for payments of its customers’ savings.
When NSSF was contacted for a comment on the matter, they said the current legal regime doesn’t enable them pay it’s customers due to an outbreak of a pandemic, which is very true. The Fund further said they don’t have the liquidity to pay all its customers at once since they invest the Money to make profits for the customers’ savings including lending government through its participation in treasury bonds auctions.
However in my opinion, a motion can be tabled in Parliament for a debate to amend the NSSF act just like other laws have been easily amended in parliament to enable NSSF pay out its customers some percentage of their savings since the Pandemic have left many in income insecurity and shocks, thus majority are living in undignified quality of Life.
Some private players in insurance sector already devised measures of supporting their customers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. For example Prudential Uganda announced a cash pay-out to its customers should they unfortunately be diagnosed with COVID-19. The pay-out is intended to help their families manage expenses while they are in recovery. In addition, if a customer is admitted in a hospital with COVID-19, Prudential will provide a daily allowance at no extra cost to the Client.
I think our social security institutions can weigh in ways of supporting their customers during such difficult times such that the members can realize and appreciate the importance of savings.
The writer is a freelance and an independent social researcher, with a kin interest in political economy, governance and other social and economic dimensions of Development. He is also a student of Master’s in Social Sector Planning and Management.
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