The Minister of State, General Duties, Hon. Henry Musasizi, has pledged continued support from the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) to the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA).
This will be in form of financial resources, guidance and representation of the Authority’s interests.
Hon. Musasizi was speaking at the inauguration of the new Board of Directors for URBRA at Serena Hotel, Kigo.
The outgoing Board was inaugurated in October 2011, soon after the establishment of the Regulator through the enactment of the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) Act, 2011. It was chaired by Senior Counsel Andrew Kasirye.
Hon. Musasizi lauded the founding Board, former and current CEOs, as well as staff for ensuring the growth of URBRA to its current state.
He especially noted that under URBRA’s strict regulatory and supervisory regime, there hadn’t been any record of schemes losing savers’ money.
He commended the Board and staff for effectively implementing URBRA’s mandate of protecting savers’ retirement benefits.
On outstanding challenges, the Minister told the new Board that the sector needs more support to continue contributing to national development.
He observed that if schemes are well-regulated, they will grow and generate enough money to support the economy. This will halt capital flight and reduce the government’s borrowing from other economies.
Minister Musasizi also noted that many people don’t want to save for retirement, preferring to spend their money when they are still alive and energetic. He noted that many people didn’t understand the difference between retirement savings and SACCOs.
He challenged URBRA to persuade more people to save for retirement and avoid old-age poverty. On this note, he urged the new Board to lead by example, and embark on voluntary saving as individuals.
The incoming Chairman, Hon. Julius Bigirwa Junjura, thanked the Minister for entrusting him with the responsibility of leading the URBRA Board of Directors.
Having been a member of the outgoing Board for the last three years, Hon Junjura commended his colleagues for mentoring and preparing him for his new role.
He thanked the Directors for the stewardship over the past ten years, committed to carrying the good work forward, and creating even more milestones to steer the Authority further ahead.
Among their priorities, Hon. Junjura said the new Board would strengthen the Research Directorate to make URBRA a one-stop centre for information regarding pensions issues.
He also pledged to engage the ministries in charge of government programmes like the Parish Development Model, to ensure that they include URBRA in the implementation processes. Hon Junjura also pledged to improve partnerships with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.
“You cannot talk about retirement without partnering with the Ministry of Health on how to live healthily. We also have to engage the Ministry of Education so that the pupils are involved in developing the saving culture,” Junjura said.
He also pledged to strengthen the existing schemes, improve retirement benefits products and promote dignity in retirement.
The outgoing Board Chairman, Senior Counsel Andrew Kasirye, congratulated the new Directors and pledged full support and guidance to his successor.
Reminiscing on URBRA’s beginnings, Mr Kasirye noted that the Authority started with nothing but an Act of Parliament. He commended the founding Board and staff for setting up the Authority on a firm foundation.
He commended past CEOs, Mr Moses Bekabye and Mr David Nyakundi for setting a good pace, and current CEO, Mr Martin Nsubuga for maintaining the standards set by his predecessors.
According to Senior Counsel Kasirye, the most outstanding achievement of his Board is improved scheme governance and professionalism in the sector.
“When we came in, the sector assets under management were below four trillion, today the sector is worth 20 trillion. There are 65 schemes now, but when we started there were only three known schemes. It is because of our efforts to set up a robust framework for regulation and supervision,” he said.
To spur more sector growth, Senior Counsel Kasirye recommended liberalisation to encourage competition and improve the efficiencies and performance of existing schemes. He also expressed the need for more public awareness about retirement savings and increased visibility for URBRA.
Outgoing Board member, Mrs Rosemary Ssenabulya urged the incoming Board to apply the “eyes on, hands off” approach which had enabled the old Board to maintain a good working relationship with management.
She pledged continued support, given her wide experience in the labour and employment sector. She expressed pride in the calibre of staff that they had attracted, exposed and maintained.
“We leave behind a competent, knowledgeable and skilled staff. It took us time and effort to get the best and we have jealously tried to retain them. Struggle to maintain the good staff so that they don’t leave us,” she advised.
Dr Robert Okello, also one of the founding Board members, appealed to the new Board Chairman to remember that URBRA is not only for Kampala but for the whole country. He advised them to ensure that they constitute a representative Board.
New members joining the URBRA Board
Hon. Ninsiima Ronah Rita: Former journalist (2000-2010), former Woman Member of Parliament, Kabale District (2011-2016).
Hon. Mutebi David Ronnie: Former Member of Parliament, Buikwe South Constituency (2016-2021), Managing Director, World Point Group.