Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile and Finance minister Matia Kasaija have said the Government of Uganda has no intention of taking over or taxing unclaimed balances in bank accounts or mobile money accounts.
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, 22 September 2021, Kasaija and Mutebile said there are a set of laws to deal with unclaimed balances or dormant accounts for Supervised Financial Institutions (SFIs) and Electronic Money Issuers (EMIs).
The Governor explained that according to Section 119 of the Financial Institutions Act (FIA) 2004 and Section 83 of the Micro Finance Deposit-taking Institutions (MDT) Act, 2003, a dormant account is one that has not had any activity for a period of two years in an SFI.
“This includes fixed deposit accounts that have not had any activity for 2 years following the maturity date,” he explained.
Mutebile added that after two years of inactivity, the financial institution transfers the said accounts to a separate register of dormant accounts in its books and a notice in writing of that action is sent to the depositor (customer) at his or her last known address.
“Once the dormant account has been on the register for three years, the Supervised Financial Institution advertises this fact in the print media. It should be noted that any account may be transferred out of the register of dormant accounts if the depositor or, if the depositor is dead, his or her legal representative, makes such a request,” he added.
Unclaimed balances shall after a period of five years from the date of the advertisement be transferred to Bank of Uganda, Mutebile said.
“The public should note that the Bank of Uganda shall refund any unclaimed balance to the depositor of those balances with the Supervised Financial Institution or, if the depositor is dead, his or her legal representative, if a request is made after the dormant account has been transferred to the Bank of Uganda,” the statement added.
According to Section 57 of the National Payment Act (2020), the statement added that a dormant account is one that has not had any activity for a period of nine (9) consecutive months.
The governor and the minister explained that at the expiry of the nine (9) months, including the one (1) month notice period, the e-money account will be suspended and subsequently blocked.
“Five (5) days after blocking the e -money account, the Electronic Money Issuer shall give notice to the customer that the account is blocked and provide instructions on how the account can be activated,” they explained.
If the account is not activated within six (6) months after it has been blocked, the Electronic Morley Issuer shall close the account and transfer the balance on the Electronic Money Account to Bank of Uganda.
“Bank of Uganda shall pay unclaimed balances to the customer if the claim is made within 7 years; If the account owner is deceased, their legal representative, or administrator of his estate shall make such a claim,” he explained.
Bank of Uganda shall after those 7 years, if unclaimed, transfer the unclaimed balances to the Consolidated Fund.
“The public is informed that there is a period of up to 10 years within which to rectify the issue of unclaimed balances on your accounts held with Supervised Financial Institutions. Customers, who hold accounts with Electronic Money Issuers, have a total of 8 years and three months within which to deal with the issue of dormant accounts,” the statement read.
“As such, Bank of Uganda assures the public that Government will not take over your unclaimed balances that are lying idle on your accounts held either with supervised Financial Institutions or with Electronic Money Issuers,” it added.