Kampala – The Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) has stated that the move by NSSF last week to allow its members who are sick of the novel coronavirus to meet hospital bills, should not be taken as mid-term access ; provision in the NSSF bill which is yet to be assented to by the President.
This statement was made by Rita Nansasi; the acting CEO of URBRA last Friday while the authority was donating an assortment of physiotherapy equipments to the Mapeera Bakateyamba’s home in Nalukolongo in Kampala.
“As a regulator, I would like to guide that this decision is not necessarily the mid-term access that people have been agitating for. It is an act of kindness that has come in at a time of need, because we noticed that members have been affected by Covid-19 just like everybody else,” she said.
She further stated that affected members of the fund will be able to apply under the wing of the invalidity benefit meet their medical bills in as far as the pandemic is concerned.
Nansasi also said that the move will also be taken on by other retirement benefits saving schemes to help their members meet the costs of treating COVID-19 which is so expensive especially for severe cases that require intensive care unit care.
She also clarified that the members who are sick will apply for money through a next of kin, and only part of their savings but not the whole of it will be given to them, since they expect the member(s) to recover and continue saving for retirement.
Present at the function too was the Director for Social Protection in the Ministry of Labour Gender and social development James Ebitu; who is a board member at URBRA, who in the wake of private hospitals charging exorbitant fees for treating COVID-19 patients said that government through the relevant authorities will reign on and make sure they don’t turn a noble profession into a profit making one.
“The national COVID-19 task force has been meeting and some of the resolutions will be communicated in the next public addresses. Once there is justification for anything, I think we can make our case and urge these people that they have a social responsibility, and you must have a human heart, and wear a human face while treating people not to take advantage of the situation to extort resources or money from the public. Definitely it is unacceptable to do this to patients,” Ebitu said.
Sr. Mary Lawrence Nkakiwu; the administrator of the Bakateyamba home in her acceptance speech thanked the Authority for the kind donation.
On how the pandemic has affected their operations, Sr. Nakiwu had this to say. “At the present situation, we can’t say that we’re well off because we are all affected like any other person in Uganda and all over the world. This home is supported by people of good will through donations, and if they are affected, we too get affected. So for now the donations have gone down because people are not working, or working but not earning well, and they cannot share with us and that is the biggest challenge we are going through”.