Makerere University Retirement Scheme Declares 12.34% Interest for the Year

Makerere University Retirement Scheme Declares 12.34% Interest for the Year
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Members of Council and Management join MURBS Trustees, Ambassadors, and service providers in a group photo after the presentation of the Scheme’s performance for FY 2022/2023 on 24th October 2023.

The Makerere University Retirements Benefits Scheme (MURBS) announced an interest rate of 12.34% for the financial year that ended on June 30, 2023. This declaration was made during MURBS’ 13th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on October 26, 2023, at the Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium. The MURBS Fund’s value increased from UGX 299 billion at the start of the Financial Year 2022/2023 to UGX 352 billion as of June 30, 2023. This growth resulted in a net return of UGX 42 billion, which was distributed to members as interest.

Prior to the declaration, the MURBS Performance for the Financial Year 2022/2023 was presented to the University Council and Management on October 24, 2023, at the Telepresence Centre, Senate Building, Makerere University. The presentation was attended by key figures, including the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara, who was represented by Mr. Bruce Balaba Kabaasa, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, represented by Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, and other university officials. Mr. Martin A. Nsubuga, the CEO of Uganda Retirements Benefits Authority (URBRA), was represented by Mr. Lubega Rodgers.

During the year, the Trustees operationalized the Trust Deed and Scheme Rules (TDSR) following amendments on May 30, 2023. These amendments aimed to enhance governance, policy, and operational changes, ultimately strengthening the Scheme. The Board composition increased from five to seven Trustees, although, as of June 30, 2023, the Board consisted of six Trustees, with an independent Trustee pending appointment.

The Board experienced changes during the year, with one member, Mr. Wilber Grace Naigambi, completing his term on March 31, 2023, and Dr. Elizabeth Patricia Nansubuga taking his place as MUASA’s representative. The contributions of Mr. Wilber Grace Naigambi, who served on the Board of Trustees from 2016 to 2023, were recognized and appreciated. Additionally, Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi and Mr. George Bamugemereire, Council representatives, joined the Board in May and June 2023, respectively.

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Presenting the 2022/2023 performance on behalf of the Chairperson, Dr. Elizabeth Patricia Nansubuga, the Secretary Board of Trustees, Dr. Godwin Kakuba, shared that in June 2021, MURBS became the first mandatory Employer-based Scheme in Uganda. The TDSR amendment introduced “Midterm” access to 12% of accrued benefits for members aged at least 45 years who had saved with the Scheme for a minimum of ten years.

However, the Chairperson’s presentation cautioned that Midterm access could have long-term effects on the fund value and return on investment of retirement benefits. As a result of Midterm access in 2022/2023, some members’ savings shifted to lower ranges, while others moved to higher ranges. The largest number of members, 53.9% out of 3,041 active accounts, fell into the category of savings below UGX 50 million, a slight improvement from the previous year.

Dr. Kakuba emphasized the Scheme’s efforts to move more members to higher savings ranges through timely collection and prudent investment of contributions. He thanked the University Council and Management for their cooperation and timely remittance of members’ contributions.

In response to the presentation, Mr. Bruce Balaba Kabaasa appreciated the Board for sustaining the Scheme’s operations for the last thirteen years and encouraged the Trustees to develop a detailed strategic plan for managing and investing the Scheme Funds. He also advocated for greater member education on investment options.

Mr. Kabaasa disagreed with the notion that Midterm access should be discouraged, emphasizing the importance of giving members an opportunity to test investment options closer to retirement. He believed it was better to lose a small percentage of retirement benefits through poorly researched investments than to risk significant losses at retirement.

Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, delivering the Vice Chancellor’s remarks, praised MURBS for its performance and the secure future it provided for Makerere University employees. He acknowledged the Government of Uganda’s contribution to the sector by paying salaries on time, contributing to retirement benefits, and creating a favorable environment for Schemes and their service providers to invest member funds.

Mr. Kiranda echoed the call for enhanced member education on investment and offered the University Management’s commitment to cooperate with MURBS in this endeavor.

On behalf of the CEO of URBRA, Mr. Lubega Rodgers commended the MURBS Board for addressing regulatory concerns during onsite inspections. He noted that the retirement benefits sector in Uganda had grown significantly over the past decade, reaching UGX 20.56 trillion in assets under management. Mr. Lubega highlighted MURBS as one of the schemes that had effectively implemented retirement benefits regulations.

In closing, Mr. George Bamugemereire thanked all attendees, stressing the importance of planning for retirement from the first day of employment. He assured the audience that the Scheme was in safe hands and encouraged continued confidence in its management.

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