KAMPALA — The Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme (MURBS) has declared an interest rate of 10.01% on its members’ opening balances as at 1st July 2019.
The meeting held in the Conference Room, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) was aimed at presenting MURBS’ performance for the Financial Year 2019/2020 to the Makerere University Council, Management and other stakeholders ahead of the 10th Annual General Meeting (AGM) due to be held virtually on 22nd October 2020.
Welcoming all parties, the Secretary – Board of Trustees (BoT), MURBS, Mr. Wilber Grace Naigambi introduced the new Chairperson – BoT, MURBS, Dr. Godwin Kakuba, elected to replace Rev. Dr. John Kitayimbwa who resigned from University service.
Dr. Godwin Kakuba in delivering his statement expressed the BoT’s sympathy to the University Council, Management and community upon the gutting of the iconic Main Building by fire on 20th September 2020.
“We pray that God may give you wisdom on how to handle all the challenges that have come out of this tragedy.”
He stated that MURBS had a total membership of 3,777 as at 30th June 2020, of which 2,062 were active. He added that the scheme received contributions worth UGX 21Billion from Makerere University during financial year 2019/2020 and paid out benefits worth UGX 7Billion to retiring staff in the same period.
The Chairperson allayed his audience’s fears on what effects the COVID-19 pandemic might have had on the scheme’s performance when he announced that the MURBS fund value grew by UGX 31Billion from UGX 178Billion as at 30th June 2018 to UGX 209Billion as at 30th June 2020.
This he partly attributed to the BoT’s decision to divest from the equity asset class and strategically invest in the property asset class.
“This decision shielded the part of our portfolio held in land from the volatile behaviour of the equity markets during these uncertain times” explained Dr. Kakuba. He went on to state, ”As such, the net return on investments undertaken by the Scheme this year was UGX 22.3Billion compared with UGX 11.1Billion last year. It is this return that is being distributed to members in form of interest this year.”
Dr. Kakuba also shared that MURBS emerged winner in the Retirement Benefits Sector category of the Financial Reporting (FiRe) Award Competitions 2019 after beating 20 other schemes. MURBS also took the FiRE Award for Most Improved Reporting.
“MURBS has now emerged winner in the Retirement Benefits category for three consecutive years.”
The Chairperson Council in her remarks read verbatim by Dr. Nambalirwa Nkabala congratulated MURBS upon declaring a competitive interest rate of 10.01% and commended the Government of Uganda for liberalizing the pension sector that has enabled various schemes to flourish.
She congratulated MURBS upon wining two FiRe awards in the November 2019 competition and commended the University Management for providing an environment that is conducive for the scheme to thrive and offer a decent retirement for University employees.
“On its part, Council has provided a home for MURBS on the University Campus free of charge. Council also continues to engage Government not only on enhancing staff salaries, which increases the monthly contributions to MURBS, but also on the payment of the only outstanding debt” read the Chair Council’s remarks.
The Chairperson Council’s remarks in conclusion urged the BoT to exercise even more caution and wisdom as they make investment decisions, especially now that the fund value is now more than UGX 200Billion. “Keep in mind that the wellbeing of the university employees in retirement, and consequently the smooth running of Makerere University, to some extent, depends on what is happening in the Scheme.”
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor commended the Trustees upon working hard to reduce the number of members with retirement packages below UGX 50Million from 1,308 as at 30th June 2017 to 768 as at 30th June 2020. In the same period, the number of members with retirement packages between UGX 150 Million and 200Million grew from only two to 425.
“This is remarkable! This shows that Makerere University is among the best employers in Uganda and we thank the Government of Uganda for prioritizing the remuneration of University staff” he enthused.
Prof. Nawangwe thanked the University Council for its decision to run an independent Retirement Benefits Scheme for university employees, noting that this has enabled members’ benefits to grow at rates above inflation over past financial years. MURBS has over the last two financial years declared interest rates of 10.6% and 17% for 2018/2019 and 2017/2018 respectively.
The Vice Chancellor concluded his remarks by stating that Makerere as the premier University in Africa owes it to Uganda to make best use of all resources allocated by the Government. “The Government continues to handle many challenges including providing quality higher education to a growing number of young people in Uganda. We are doing our best to support Government in this respect and are committed to ensuring that Makerere University plays a strategic role in solving this challenge, especially at graduate level.”
The meeting was also addressed by Mr. Ssenyonga Cosmas-Senior Supervision Officer who represented the Chief Executive Officer, Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA)-Mr. Martin A. Nsubuga. He thanked the Sponsor-Makerere University for remitting employee contributions to MURBS on time and the Trustees for providing accountability for the work done over the past financial years.
“Our regulator’s report clearly indicated that Makerere University is one of the biggest schemes in Uganda and when you look at the indicators such as efficiency and profitability compared to peers in the sector, they have been improving over time and we commend the Board of Trustees” added Mr. Ssenyonga.
He said that schemes in the sector have been able to improve in terms of governance, prudent investment and administration thanks largely to URBRA’s ability to enforce standards. “The sector assets have increased from UGX 5Trillion in 2013 to 15.2Trillion as at the end of the last financial year.”
The URBRA official noted that the sector’s current assets are based on contributions from approximately two million employees. “If we had most of the working population contributing towards their retirement, we would probably be talking about UGX 30Trillion today.”
Citing the MURBS example where over 80% of assets are invested in Government securities, Mr. Ssenyonga observed that retirement benefits schemes are capable of accumulating domestic resources that can be used by the Government to finance various development projects. He added that sector has over the last five years achieved an average increase in assets of 20.6% per annum, which has enabled it to earn an average interest of 9% and accord members an average interest of 9.6%. All MURBS declarations at the meeting were above the regulator’s averages.