MAKERERE VS NIC: TRUTH AS VICTIM
MAKERERE VS NIC: TRUTH AS VICTIM
The Auditor General’s report on the face-off between Makerere University and the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) is creating more problems than it was meant to solve. Records confirmed by an audit exercise carried out by the Auditor General have shown that NIC received a total of Shs13.226 billion from Makerere University and has so far paid Shs15.7 billion. Yet, the Auditor General, based on the findings of an audit company, has computed a total of Shs.26.9billion as being payable to Makerere by NIC, less Shs213 million withdrawal charges and Shs10billion paid by NIC between December 2010 and January 2011. NIC does not agree that an additional sum of Shs16.7 billion is due to be paid to Makerere University as recommended by the Auditor General.
What is most interesting in the whole saga is the fact that a third party – the Auditor General – that was invited by government to reconcile and verify the contentious figures has declared that the calculations of both Makerere and NIC were wrong. The new figures released by government appeared to have muddled up facts beyond the imagination of the two parties. Something is not quite right here. Whilst the Auditor General’s report has availed Makerere what would amount to a Christmas bonus, it has also burdened NIC with an unanticipated debt.
Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) has sought to force the issue by laying down tools and insisting that it is paid not just what it previously claimed, but what the audit now claims it is owed, with immediate effect.
Our relative silence on this matter should not be considered an admission of this liability but should be understood as our professional commitment to dialogue and respect for contracts. We believe that it is fair for us to receive a fair hearing.
NIC, as a responsible corporation, has met its obligations, paying Makerere staff withdrawals in form of death and retirement benefits on behalf of the Makerere Board of Trustees since inception of the Deposit Administration Scheme (DAP). Shs5.7 billion has so far been paid out in such withdrawals while another Shs10 billion was paid to the university within two months, based on the President’s intervention.
Not only does this reflect our financial strength, it also shows our good faith and commitment to resolve this matter amicably. Let us, for a moment, ignore the shrill noises around the matter and look at the facts. How can a simple commercial transaction, guided by agreed terms of contract, suddenly become a knot that has become too difficult to untie?
The key to unravelling the truth can be found in the answer to a simple question: if a pension contributor stopped remittances to its fund scheme in 2005 and consistently made withdrawals from the same fund for over six years, what is the basis for saying that the value of the fund is more than 100 percent of its original size?
In other words, how could Makerere’s fund, which was less than Shs13.2 billion when the university stopped remitting contributions to NIC in 2005, have grown to Shs32.6 billion by August 2010, in spite of withdrawals?
This, we feel, is a legitimate question that needs to be answered between the interested parties, without unfair and undue pressure.
Whilst the government has done well to mediate in the dispute between Makerere and NIC, We believe it is necessary to go one step further to ensure that there is ‘no victor, or vanquished’ in this matter.
In effect, Makerere must get neither a shilling more nor a shilling less than what is due to it and NIC must not inadvertently be run out of business. Both are national institutions that must be preserved for the good of society.
NIC is ready and willing to be heard thorough, fair, satisfactory and binding resolution to this matter. We are confident that we shall be vindicated by the truth. All we seek is a fair hearing, and a sober, impartial examination of the facts. Is this an unreasonable request?