KAMPALA – The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is again in the spotlight over questionable expenditure after it emerged that for the last eight years, it has been spending Shs200million per month to guard the Pension towers construction site, whose works have been a standstill.
The construction of the Pension Towers started in April 2008 when the first contract was awarded to Roko Construction Ltd. The first phase involved the construction of four basement levels and some elements of ground and mezzanine floors. It stalled thereafter when a wall collapsed on them on October 14 of that year.
However, on Sunday, November 4, the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) and the Central Organization of Free Trade Unions, (COFTU), which represent workers, revealed that NSSF has been spending Shs200 million per month to guard the construction site.
In two separate press conferences, NOTU and COFTU expressed concern over the expenditure. Mr Christopher Peter Werikhe, the secretary general NOTU, was the first to draw blood at a press conference in Ntinda, Kampala, where their offices are located.
“What is there to guard in a construction site? The Pensions Towers is just concrete, there is nothing like iron bars or cement to say that they can be stolen so why spend all that money to guard what?” Mr Werikhe said.
Mr Sam Lyomoki, the general secretary COFTU, also said he has written to NSSF over the matter.
“I now believe that there must have been someone benefitting from this expenditure because I have written to them to give a written explanation when we learnt about the expenditure,” Mr Lyomoki told journalists.
However, when contacted, the NSSF head of marketing and communication, Ms Barbara Arimi, dismissed the allegations, arguing that on all its branches countrywide, NSSF does not even spend beyond Shs100 million on rent per month.
Mr Lyomoki also accused the Ministry of Finance of rejecting workers’ nominees on the NSSF board, which he said is part of government plans to misuse workers’ savings. The workers also accused the Minister of Finance of increasing the NSSF managing director’s term of office from three years to five years without the approval of the board. This, NOTU said is intended to create loopholes for playing around with workers’ savings
NOTU also claimed that Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and NSSF MD connived to increase interest rates from 13.5 percent to 15 per cent without the board approval.
Mr Kasaija was not immediately available to comment on this allegation.
They also revealed that they fought hard for Gender ministry permanent secretary Pius Bigirimana to sit on the Umeme board to watch over NSSF funds invested in Umeme as well as lowering electricity tariffs.