Sierra Leone’s National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), a statutory Public Trust established by an Act of Parliament charged with the responsibility of administering Sierra Leone’s National Pension Scheme is reported to have collected a whopping sum of forty eight billion, nine hundred and forty-four million, five hundred and seventy-two thousand Leones (Le46, 944,572,000) as contributions from its membership as of July this year The Scheme, with a membership of 19,885 members as of July 15, 2009 is charged with the responsibility of registering employers and employees, collection of contributions, maintenance of membership data and management of surplus funds in the public’s interest in line with sound investment principles considering the liquidity, safety and yield, among other functions.
Membership of the scheme is compulsory for all formal workers with an employer- employee relationship. It is mandatory for all employers to ensure that their workers are registered with the Scheme. The employer deducts 5% from the employee’s earnings and pays another 10% on behalf of the employee, to give a total contribution of 15%. It is voluntary for self-employed persons, who may join the Scheme as voluntary contributors, paying the full 15% on their declared income. According to Peter Kenah, Director of Public Affairs for the Scheme, the scheme is a “defined benefit social insurance scheme”. There are contingencies covered by the Scheme, and they include, Old Age, Invalidity and Death.
Asked to comment on investment undertaken so far by the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), Peter Kenah said ‘the Trust has invested in the following companies: Sierrablock Concrete Products Ltd, with a 60% share holding, Regimanuel Gray (SL)Ltd with a 40% share holding, Guiji Property Development (SL) Ltd with a 10% share holding, Kimbima Hotel Ltd with a 60% share holding, SN Alliance with a 50% share holding’ and that it also has shares in Ecobank Transnational (ETI), Sierra Leone Brewery Ltd, Standard Chatered Bank (SL) Ltd and the Rokel Commercial Bank
Sierra Leone has had an acute housing need since the end to the civil war which saw the complete destruction of infrastructure. In an attempt to help address that problem, the Trust has acquired plots of land at Waterloo, Bo, Makeni and Kenema to construct affordable housing units. ‘The Trust is in a joint venture with the Kenema City Council for the construction of a Transport Terminal and Shopping plazas. Work will be completed at the end of this year. It should be pointed out that this venture will be replicated in Bo, and Makeni’, noted Peter Kenah
Despite these successes, the Trust is also reported to be facing challenges in its operation, and according to Peter Kenah, The Trust is still faced with the challenge of ensuring the completion of the Biometric registration process and full integration with our existing ICT platform. This system will ensure the prompt and secure payment of benefits to our members and their dependants
‘We are also trying to get studies and consultations to determine the best option for a national health insurance scheme. As a matter of fact, completing the pilot project for the affordable housing scheme to target workers and other middle-income earners of the informal sector is still a challenge on our part as well as, trying to extend coverage and consolidate the management and administration of the scheme’
In recent times, the Trust encountered severe media criticisms following the purchase of ferries costing the country millions of dollars, but since their arrival in the country six months ago, they have not been functioning. This, according to the Acting Director of the Scheme, Gibril Saccoh was in no way meant to deprive the people of Sierra Leone. Speaking to journalists recently, Saccoh stated that the vessels were purchased within the context of the Trust’s Investment program which was aimed at achieving value for money in the acquisition of assets.
© 2009 – 2011, John Baimba Sesay. All rights reserved. Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.