By Spy Uganda
The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Matia Kasaija has said that Shs6 billion request by the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Betty Amongi from the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) was irregular.
On 02 February 2023, Amongi told the select committee investigating the alleged mismanagement of the fund that her request was made in accordance with Section 29 of the NSSF Act which mandates her to amend the fund’s budget.
She said her request came after she identified that the fund’s 2022/2023 Financial Year budget did not provide for activities to implement the amended NSSF Act which introduced voluntary contributions.
Kasaija who also appeared before the same committee on the same day however, said that the request came to his attention but he disagreed with it because the ministry operates its own budget.
The NSSF Amendment Act paved way for dual supervision of the fund and Kasaija said that it is irregular for a minister supervising the fund to request for money.
“They should request for money from the Treasury. Please, let us be clear, this money is not our money,” he said.
The Secretary to the Treasury, Patrick Ocailap told the committee that the Shs6 billion request by Amongi was not approved in the NSSF budget.
“We sent a budget to her to approve and in considering approval of the budget that is when she gave that counter proposal of re-allocation. From the Treasury where I sit, I did not approve that money, it is irregular,” Ocailap said.
This prompted the Committee Chairperson, Hon. Mwine Mpaka to ask Kasaija why the fund had no challenges in the past 10 years, until recently when dual supervision started.
Kasaija explained that it is because he had a good working relationship with NSSF’s former Managing Director , Richard Byarugaba and the Board.
“When the MD or Board Chairperson would get a challenge, they would come to me and if I felt that there was something I did understand, I would summon them to explain. For all purposes, I had no issue of substance with Byarugaba that is worth mentioning here,” said Kasaija.
Byarugaba who also appeared before the select committee said that the corruption allegations against him were baseless.
“How wild can this be that I received five percent of the contract value on Pension Towers and I wired the money through a bank in Mauritius and in Barclays? All these allegations are very wild, there is no evidence,” he said.
Byarugaba’s woes started after Amongi wrote a letter questioning his reappointment, following expiry of his contract in November 2022.
The NSSF Board approved Byarugaba’s reappointment for another five year term and consequently, Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja asked Amongi to implement the Board’s decision.
Amongi instead called for an investigation into the conduct of Byarugaba, accusing him of abuse of office and mismanagement of investments.