The drug vice is eating at today’s youths and a quick and permanent solution ought to be found in order to numb this cancerous habit
By Emmanuel Luganda
9 years ago, my longtime friend Atwooki lost a grandmother. The strong, black beauty knocking on 82 years succumbed to malaria.
With her angelic smile, Abwooli Kabajungu was my grandmother too, because of the brotherly friendship I have with the grandson.
Her motherly advice of encouraging us to work hard and living a legacy still lingers in my minds.
The strong whirling winds breaking through tree barriers kept us fresh as we laid her body to rest at her scenic home in Fort portal, bordering Mountain Rwenzori.
Abwooli gracefully enjoyed her old age, having saved up enough through her youthful life as a farmer, to enjoy the last years of her life.
Blessed with many sons who would have moved through hurdles to ensure she was covered at every front in relation to her basic needs, Abwooli never came to see those days as she was an old self-sufficient woman.
Even then, not every elderly person has that blessing. If you have lived in Kampala for even a month, you might have chanced on an elderly person either selling tomatoes, charcoal or working a 14-hour shift in a shop.
While working is commendable, for an elderly person, it should not be a means for survival, rather a hobby or way of keeping occupied.
That is why it is paramount that youths start saving for their retirement as early as possible. In Uganda, youths are ranked between 18 and 35 years but in this demographic, employment commences around 23 years after they have completed their education at tertiary level. It is eyebrow-raising that some of the employed youth believe they are still young to save and procrastinate on this safety net for the indefinite future.
Youths should know that savings will, at length, be a source of future survival. Employment is not perpetual and not especially in this era, where companies are increasingly downsizing because of rising operational costs. There is an ill-advised sense of complacency that creeps in, when most of us begin earning money, that we in most cases cannot see the forest for the trees or we simply just lose sight of the future, forgetting retirement is a reality. In essence, as a worker, you have between 23/4 and 50 years of gathering savings to cater for the rest of your life.
In light of the prevailing status quo, the million dollar question is; can the current youth lifestyle choices ensure old age security? Majority of the country’s youth have long fallen into the habit of wasteful spending, indulging themselves in alcohol and drug binges and parties. According to Police records, 2463 adult males and 151 adult females were involved in narcotics or drugs in 2017.
The drug vice is eating at today’s youths and a quick and permanent solution ought to be found in order to numb this cancerous habit.
These shortcomings among the youth are deterring their efforts for growth.
At the moment, the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) has devised various ways for people to cater to those ready to save for the future without feeling the pinch.
Schemes such as the National Social Security Fund, regulated by URBRA deducts 5 per cent off your salary which is bolstered by your employer who adds 10 per cent to be dedicated to your retirement savings.
The savings are entitled to interest earnings on an annual basis, which will be given to you at 55 years, upon your request.
Last year, members of NSSF earned a 15 per cent interest on their savings attributed to the good performance of the fund.
While NSSF caters for those formally employed or previously formally employed, URBRA licensed Mazima and KACITA retirement schemes that allow the informal sector to save for their retirement.
In many aspects, Uganda’s informal sector which makes up 80% of the country’s labour work force has lagged behind in terms of saving for retirement.
Through the years, informal Sector Schemes have given an opportunity to the informal community to save for the future.
These savings are also subjected to interest earnings since their savings are invested.
In light of that, it is important to bring people to terms with URBRA’s regulatory framework, which ensures that individual member savings are safe and available for requisition at the point of retirement.
One may want to argue that many youths are unemployed, which is true.
According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 13.3 per cent of the youths between the 18-30 age group is unemployed.
In a bid to support the unemployed youth, Government has introduced many projects aimed at helping youth acquire skills to create their own jobs as well as seed capital for businesses.
The projects are also not in isolation of the private sector which has strongly empowered the youth to acquire skills and knowledge to prosper.
It is now incumbent on youth especially those in the formal education system to seek for experience prior to completion of university.
For instance, if youth started volunteering and interning while in their first year at university, they would graduate with at least three years’ experience in their work of interest.
Volunteering and internships give youth the opportunity to grow their work experience which is a major challenge for those in search of jobs.
So fellow youth, old age security is guaranteed on savings accumulated through your youth hood which calls for hard work and planned spending.
I implore every youth to adopt the Jewish spending model; They tithe, save, invest, give to charity and then spend.
Source New Vision