The Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme (MURBS) has been lauded by the regulator; Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) for coming up with the Customer Service Charter and Departmental Ambassadors Programme. The two initiatives were launched by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe at a well-attended ceremony held on 27th February 2018 in the Tele-presence Centre, Senate Building, Makerere University.
Speaking as Chief Guest at the launch, Prof. Nawangwe thanked the MURBS Board of Trustees for the invitation and great job done so far in managing and growing Members’ savings. He noted that the Departmental Ambassadors Programme was a great initiative in building a solid governance structure for MURBS and the Customer Service Charter was another feather in the cap of an already great performance in as far as reaching out to Members of the scheme was concerned.
“I have already heard of standards that the MURBS Board of Trustees has set in as far as paying Members benefits upon retirement in a record 5 days! I pray that you will continue to uphold this record, which Makerere as the sponsor is keen to emulate,” pronounced the Vice Chancellor amidst bouts of thunderous applause and laughter from the audience.
Prof. Nawangwe however reassured his audience that the University Management was working hard to change the situation of delayed payment of retiree benefits. “I would like to thank the Government for the renewed responsiveness in as far as settling all outstanding arrears with Makerere University is concerned. We are hopeful that the situation is going to improve even further so that people who have diligently served this University for decades can receive their benefits on time.”
He challenged the audience to ponder on the fact that whereas the University’s annual wage bill is approximately UGX130billion, the MURBS fund value is about to hit the UGX120billion mark. This, he noted, should set off a light bulb on our collective potential as university employees to come up with a powerful financial institution, should we choose to save percentages of our earnings way above the mandatory monthly obligations.
The Vice Chancellor also expressed optimism that the MURBS fund value would soon hit the UGX150billion mark, especially as the remuneration for staff continues to improve. He concluded his remarks by congratulating all Departmental Ambassadors upon their nomination and declared the MURBS Customer Service Charter and Departmental Ambassadors Programme duly launched.
In any industry where high standards of compliance are a minimum requirement, it is a rare occurrence for the regulator to publicly commend one of the players. However, there is an exception to this rule for a highly complaint scheme such as MURBS. Speaking on behalf of URBRA the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Martin Nsubuga noted that MURBS is one of the players that the Authority takes great pride in.
“MURBS has upheld all the good principles of governance required of schemes in the retirement benefits sector. They have also always sent participants to the trainings organised by the Authority and their audited financial accounts for the year 2017 were excellent” said Mr. Nsubuga.
Mr. Nsubuga then thanked the University Management through the Vice Chancellor for complying with the requirement to submit outstanding arrears owed to the scheme, which resulted in the recovery of UGX7.5billion by MURBS. He also commended MURBS for launching the Departmental Ambassadors Programme, noting that this would go a long way in grooming future Trustees for the tasks ahead.
“Anybody who would have served as a Trustee will have a great addition to their CV due to the rigorous training that they must undergo prior to being confirmed and during their service as members of the Board. We believe that the launch of this programme will not only enhance the performance of MURBS but will also be emulated by other players in the sector,” concluded Mr. Nsubuga.
Some of the constituencies that make up the MURBS Board of Trustees are the staff associations namely; Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA), Makerere University Administrative Staff Association (MASA) and the National Union of Education Institutions (NUEI). Speaking on behalf of his fellow leaders, the Chairperson MASA, Mr. Vincent Abigaba commended MURBS for the great services offered to the staff of Makerere University.
“The launch of the Departmental Ambassadors Programme is an indicator that you are practicing good corporate governance. I have no doubt that you will deliver to the expectations of the members. I thank you for engaging us and inviting members to participate in the management of MURBS activities,” said Mr. Abigaba.
To the ordinary man, the world of Capital Markets and its myriad of associated jargon can be quite a puzzle. It was therefore only befitting that at this double launch, a professional with a wealth of experience in the field and an eye on the state of the national and regional market be invited to give a keynote address. Enter in Mr. Stephen Kaboyo, Managing Director, Alpha Capital Partners.
A trained professional with a wealth of experience spanning over 20 years in Financial Markets, Mr. Kaboyo kicked off his keynote address by congratulating MURBS for pursuing a professional approach to financial reporting and governance. He admitted that retirement benefits; although an interesting topic and venture, was very complicated to understand and had its fair share of jargon.
He however challenged the Members to hold their Trustees accountable by seeking explanations for any matter they didn’t understand. “You pay the Trustees so call them up and ask them questions pertaining to your retirement benefits. It is important that you understand how your benefits are managed. You have to understand your role as a member and that of all the service providers involved” said Mr. Kaboyo, before adding “knowing how your investments perform is critical to understanding the risks involved in managing your benefits and how much you take home at the end of the day.”
Mr. Kaboyo urged the members to always attend MURBS meetings and seek to understand the scheme from the basics. He however noted the need to introduce a comprehensive financial wellness programme that holistically looks at how to set financial goals, carry out financial planning and a host of other activities that can inform retirement benefits education.
With regard to the market trends, Mr. Kaboyo begrudgingly noted that the Ugandan capital markets were neither deep nor well developed. He observed that the Government Bond market offered the best options and there were no corporate bond markets worth talking about. Additionally, the capital markets have not registered any new listing in the last seven years.
He therefore advised the scheme managers to adopt diversification as an approach to investment and avoid concentrated investment in one portfolio. “I urge you to shift from fixed income portfolio and look at things like real estate. With regard to geographical diversification, I urge URBRA through Mr. Nsubuga to provide MURBS and other players in the market with the regulatory guidance to invest in diverse geographical locations” added Mr. Kaboyo.
Treading lightly lest he threw a spanner in the works of service providers, Mr. Kaboyo touched on the need to consider in-house management versus external management of scheme assets. “I encourage Trustees to look beyond the return on investment to the return on cost. Consider retaining some activities under in-house management if the return on cost is high. However, I must warn that this approach calls for the recruitment and retention of a robust in-house investment team,” he advised.
Mr. Kaboyo concluded his keynote by urging MURBS management to continue upholding good governance practices such as openness and transparency. “A strong governance structure is key to managing conflict of interest, which will always creep up on you at the least expected time.”
The Secretary to the Board of Trustees-Dr. John Kitayimbwa in moving a vote of thanks praised Mr. Kaboyo for agreeing to deliver the keynote. He also expressed appreciation for the advice and tips freely dispensed during the delivery of the keynote. He acknowledged the need to incorporate an investment chart in the next financial report, which will help members understand the flow of their savings right from deduction to investment. “We shall also share the MURBS real estate property model with members at the next opportune time,” he added.
Reacting to some of the responses from the audience, Dr. Kitayimbwa noted that the Departmental Ambassadors had their work cut out in as far as taking MURBS services closer to their units. Whereas the Trustee deed specifies that anyone above 50 years is ineligible to join the scheme, there exists a niche of potential members who upon hitting 55years are eligible to receive their retirement benefits from the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) but are ineligible to save with MURBS until their retirement at 60years. Dr. Kityimbwa therefore tasked the Departmental Ambassadors to seek their constituents’ opinions on this matter as their first assignment.
Giving the closing remarks at the launch, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Mr. Wilber Grace Naigambi thanked all present for taking time to attend the event. Earlier he had shared that MURBS Departmental Ambassadors are members who will volunteer to endorse and promote MURBS’ values, beliefs and mission at the University Departmental levels.
“The scheme growth and sustainability of MURBS benefits all of us. Let us therefore work together to strengthen the governance and management of MURBS” concluded Mr. Naigambi.
Article by Public Relations Office
Veteran Professor changed Makerere and Higher Education
When Professor John Ssebuwufu ambled up to receive a certificate of recognition for his ‘exceptional’ contribution to higher education from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) at Makerere University (MU), he was thinking of many things, such as rewarding staff, that he could have done differently to impact university education more.
But he did what he could have done, under the circumstances.
He presided over MU (in 1993) when student enrolment was 5,000 and left in 2004 when the population was surging to more than 15,000.
He emphasised the use of information communication technologies in almost all the institutions he had been involved in and sent many academic staff on exchanges to boost research and innovation. Now, more African universities engage in ground-breaking research.
So, he proceeded to accept his recognition and make his acceptance speech, which was mostly about gratitude.
Ssebuwufu, 74, who is currently the chancellor at Kyambogo University and the vice-chancellor of the University of Kisubi, is credited for his exemplary leadership and pragmatic methods that have shaped higher education in Uganda and Africa as a whole.
Japan Africa Dream Scholarship (JADS) Program 2021/2022
The Japan Africa Dream Scholarship (JADS) Program is a capacity building project by the AfDB and Japan which was initiated in 2017 with the aim of providing two-year scholarship awards to highly achieving African graduate students to enable them to undergo post-graduate studies (i.e. a two-year Master’s degree program) in selected priority development areas on the continent and Japan. The overarching goal the AfDB and the Government of Japan seek to attain is to enhance skills and human resources development in Africa in under the Bank’s High 5s agenda (i.e. “Feed Africa”, “Light up Africa”, “Industrialize Africa”, “Integrate Africa” and “Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa”) and key Japanese development assistance initiatives. JADS core areas of study focus include energy, agriculture, health, environmental sustainability, and engineering. The program also seeks to promote inter-university collaboration and university-industry partnerships between Japan and Africa. Upon completion of their studies, the JADS scholars are expected to return to their home countries to apply and disseminate their newly acquired knowledge and skills in the public and private sectors, and contribute to national and continental socio-economic development.
About the JADS program
The JADS Program is open to applicants from AfDB member countries with relevant professional experience and a history of supporting their countries’ development efforts who are applying to a graduate degree program in energy development and related discipline. The program does not provide scholarships to any other graduate degree program.
The scholarship program provides tuition, a monthly living stipend, round-trip airfare, health insurance, and travel allowance.
Upon completion of their studies, the beneficiary scholars are expected to return to their home countries to apply and disseminate their newly acquired knowledge and skills, and contribute to the promotion of sustainable development of their countries.
Who is Eligible to Apply?
The program is open to those who have gained admission to an approved Masters degree course at a Japanese partner university. Candidates should be 35 years old or younger; in good health; with a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in the energy area or related area; and have a superior academic record. Upon completion of their study programs, scholars are expected to return to their home country to contribute to its economic and social development.
- Applicant requests for information and application forms and procedures from the chosen JADS partner university. For any inquiries, please contact JADS@AFDB.ORG
- Applicant completes required documents and sends them to the university.
- University evaluates and selects applicants.
- University sends selected candidates to the AfDB.
- AfDB reviews submissions from universities, prepares and approves the final list.
- AfDB contacts selected awardees, and informs the universities.
WHS Regional Meeting Africa 2021: Finance Chairperson’s Update
SOPs: Our plan is to have 200 sets of people in different spacious rooms…Prof. Tonny j. oyana, finance chairperson whs regional meeting africa
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