In the wake of Covid-19 lockdown measures and with rising demand for short-term access to pension money, growth in assets, investment portfolios, and benefit payments defined the health of Uganda’s pension market.
The total assets of the sector climbed from Ush17.8 trillion ($4.8 billion) in 2020–2021 to Ush19.9 trillion ($5.2 billion) in 2021–2022 according to the most recent statistics provided by the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority.
Private fund managers controlled assets worth less than Ush3 trillion ($801 million), while the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) handled the majority of industry assets worth more than Ush17 trillion ($4.5 billion).
Similar increases were seen in the industry’s investment portfolio, which increased from Ush17.9 trillion ($4.7 billion) in 2020–21 to Ush19.5 trillion ($5 billion) in 202–21.
The minor growth in member contributions is attributed to savers’ growing desire for mid-term access benefits, while the significant increase in benefits payouts is attributed to a small group of contributors who are leaving pension schemes and have substantial funds. The NSSF Act has recently changed to provide mid-term access benefits equal to 20% of a contributor’s total savings.
According to the modified NSSF Act of 2021, eligible donors must be above 45 and have been regular savers with the Fund for at least 10 years. Since the Fund began making payments for mid-term access benefits in 2022, more than Ush300 billion ($80 million) has been distributed.
Recent retirees allegedly took money in lump sums from several retirement benefit plans totaling more than Ush250 million ($66,724) for each member in their pension savings.
“Many companies laid off staff, cut pay, and scaled-down operations during the Covid-19 lockdown. But most of the affected businesses have since recovered from the lockdown effects and have added some jobs to their operations and restored salaries,” said Simon Mwebaze, Chief Executive Officer at UAP-Old Mutual Financial Services Uganda.
“Many NGOs opted for pension schemes for their staff instead of paying gratuity alone and are also complying with new rules requiring employees to board NSSF,” said Patrick Sempijja, of ICEA Lion Investment Management Services Ltd.
A Ksh138.45 billion ($1.0 billion) budget assistance loan from the World Bank has been authorized for Kenya as part of the Fiscal Sustainability and Inclusive Green Growth Development Programme Operation (DPO).
Kenya will get the money after asking the World Bank to increase it by 33% as a result of the tighter global financing circumstances, which have caused it to postpone a planned Eurobond sale that was supposed to take place in the current fiscal year.
The International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank will provide low-cost financing to low-income economies for half of the new Ksh138.45 billion loan, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which extends semi-concessional financing, will provide the other half.
With a variable interest rate set at 85.0 basis points above the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, which is presently at 5%, the IBRD portion of the loan has an 18.5-year maturity duration.
According to the World Bank, as a condition of receiving the most recent loan, the Kenyan government agreed to deepen budget consolidation and implement responsible debt management measures.
“The first bundle of policy reforms will target the creation of fiscal space in a sustainable and equitable manner, including revenue and expenditure measures to support fiscal consolidation, strengthening the debt management framework, and protecting pro-poor expenditures. These will be augmented by a second set of reforms that improve competitiveness to boost agricultural exports, which is both a powerhouse sector where Kenya has a clear comparative advantage and the sector employing most of Kenya’s poor,” says the World Bank in a statement.
As part of the most recent financing from the World Bank, the government has also pledged to increase accountability and openness. The arrangement with the Bretton Woods lender also includes reorganizing State-owned firms.
“In governance, the DPO supports an important set of initiatives to promote objective decision-making through the Conflict-of-Interest Bill, to streamline the state’s orderly exit from commercial investments through amending the State-Owned Enterprises Privatization Act,” the World Bank says.
The most recent funding comes only one week after the IMF completed its sixth assessment of Kenya’s program, clearing the way for Kenya to receive an additional Ksh56.8 billion ($410.26 million) from its IMF loan.
Kenya was also given access to a fresh Ksh75.3 billion ($543.88 million) loan under the IMF’s Resilience and Sustainability Facility at the completion of the fifth review.