By Moses Oketayot
Formed by an Act of Parliament in 2011 to regulate the retirement sector, Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA). Mr. Martin Nsubuga CEO URBRA said that the primary object of forming the Authority in 2011 was to protect member’s savings from being swindled by unscrupulous individuals, and to improve the scope and efficiency of the sector.
He said that over the past ten years, the Authority has developed systems and capabilities to regulate and supervise the sector. “We put in place a very strong supervisory regime, and it is the foundation of the current trend that we see in this market,” he said.
Mr Nsubuga made these statements last Friday while speaking to journalists from the head offices in Kampala to announce plans to celebrate ten years of existence.
Over the past ten years, the Authority has also seen great improvement in governance in the sector, prudent investments and scheme administration according to Mr. Nsubuga. He also revealed that asset under management has significantly grown from Ugx4t in 2011 to over Ugx19t at present, and that the projections show that by the end of the current financial year at the end of June, it will have grown to about Ugx20t.
Mr. Nsubuga also revealed that URBRA has developed a trustees certification program that is in its second year of operation to enhance the fiduciary responsibilities of trustees.
He also lauded the role played by the stakeholders like the regulated entities, the members of the various schemes, trustees, and service providers who have moved with the Authority in its ten years of existence.
To celebrate the ten year achievement, the Authority has organized a two-day health camp slated for 31st May to 1st June 2022 at the Uganda Railway grounds, and a public symposium which will be done annually delving into matters of pension and retirement.
The sector has also seen saving schemes grow from three known schemes i.e. NSSF and the Public service scheme and the Parliamentary saving scheme to three mandatory schemes and 65 licensed saving schemes in 10 years. There are also 12 umbrella schemes among the 65 schemes that have attracted 209 employers in 10 years.
The sector has five custodians i.e. banks, six fund managers who are financial professionals and eleven administrators who keep the records of members, and provide investment plans for members savings.
400 trustees have gone through the certification program. The sector has also grown from 6% to 18% of the working population covering 2.8 million of the 17 million working population.
The Authority has also put in place a number of initiatives to attract members of the informal sector to save for retirement like reaching out to organized groups like farmers, boda boda riders, universities and post primary institutions and doing public awareness campaigns.
On the suggestion by the President to disband the Authority because of the high levy fees it was collecting from saving schemes Mr. Nsubuga had this to say: “The President never disbanded URBRA. However, the President directed that we stop collecting levies from the entities that we regulate and effective this year there is no levy that has been collected and in the same vein the President also directed Ministry of Finance to avail resources to URBRA and our budget is provided by the government budget budgetary allocation but we are still in existence.
Among the challenges that the Authority has faced include the slow response to saving for retirement which is yet to pick momentum, Covid-19 affected the remittance of members contributions by employers, but Mr. Nsubuga said that it is improving post lockdown and following the full reopening of the economy in January 2022.
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