MPs have blamed Bank of Uganda for failing to sensitize Ugandans on how to claim the Shs69bn that is lying idle on dormant Mobile Money Accounts.
While appearing before Parliament’s ICT Committee, Richard Byarugaba, Executive Director Finance- at Bank of Uganda said that before the enactment of the National Payments System Act 2020, the funds on dormant Mobile Money Accounts was being kept with the telecom operators that also processed the claims, but this role is now being done by the Bank of Uganda and in two years of implementation, over Shs300m has been paid out to claimants.
“The money we have at Bank of Uganda that belongs to accounts that are dormant, for those people who have died, or our colleagues that go to Saudi Arabia and soldiers who go for missions and stay there for years, we have about Shs69bn and out of that, we have paid out about Shs300m and we still have Shs68.7bn within the two years when the law came into force,” said Byarugaba.
He also revealed that Section 57 of the National Payments System Act 2020 sets a timeline of 7years within which any claimant can claim for the funds from Bank of Uganda before it’s transferred to the consolidated fund, but after this period, these funds are sent to the consolidated fund and any claim to the funds can be made to Ministry of Finance.
Denis Ssekabira (Katikamu North) raised questions as to why the public has not been sensitized on these guidelines and procedures to follow on claiming these funds.
“I think Government is doing it deliberately by not sensitizing Ugandans on the recovery processes of line and monies lost. I think so many people don’t keep records of their financial statements and their financial standings. What happens when one dies, the money dies with the bank and mobile money lines,” he said, adding: “It should be important to keep records and be transparent to their partners, spouses and their family members and even their lawyers that once a tragedy happens, this money can be recovered, I think it is very unfortunate that Government hasn’t sensitized people on money dealings.”
Robert Migadde (Buvuma Island) said that this money being held by Bank of Uganda is a lot of money, that can be borrowed by Government as it waits to be claimed by the claimants to ensure it generates interest other than leaving it to lie idle.
“We can’t say that the money should be used and not paid because the owners may later come up ask for the funds because there is a time limit. Government can borrow that money and if the owners appear they will receive the money but the interest accrued won’t be theirs, but it will be given to Government. At the end of the day, money should be invested, so Government can use this money and when the owners show up, they can be refunded,” remarked Migadde.
He also encouraged Ugandans to make will detailing which dependants should claim for these funds after demise, but also disputed notion that all people with funds on dormant accounts are dead, saying some are hiding from authorities living in fear that any transactions on their accounts would tip off their pursuers.
He said, “It isn’t only death that stops people from claiming their funds, and it isn’t true that all the money in Bank of Uganda is unclaimed, there are those who are hiding due to crimes or other reasons and them coming out to claim for the funds would tip the public off. The problem we have is that most people don’t write their wills, we at times choose heirs but we don’t distribute our estates. Most times we distribute land and property, we don’t distribute cash at bank. And even us at the Parliamentary SACCO, we have some funds that we plan we tend to take to Bank of Uganda that has been lying idle. “