At the Golden Tulip Kimbima Hotel in Freetown on the 13th November 2020, journalists were hosted by the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) during its inaugural Press Dinner.
The Director General of NASSIT, Mohamed Fuaad Daboh, in his keynote address intimated his audience that the dinner was a forum where the Trust and its partners in the Fourth Estate interact to foster excellent relationship, strengthen partnership and deepen their understanding on the work of the Scheme.
The Director General emphasised that, “NASSIT is a statutory Public Trust charged with the responsibility of administering Sierra Leone’s National Pension Scheme”.
“The Scheme”, according to Mr. Daboh, “provides retirement and other benefits to meet the contingency needs of workers and their dependants.
Updating the Press on some of the achievements of his administration, Daboh stated that as at September 2020, the Trust had a cumulative figure of 17,730 registered establishments and 245,649 members, and that the Trust had 24,996 pensioners on the payroll, exclusive of the Government and the NPA pensioners for which it was administering payment.
The DG informed his audience that in order to increase accessibility of the Trust’s services to its members, his Management launched the NASSIT telephone hotlines on both Orange and Africell networks, and that they had also developed an active Website, a Facebook page, a Twitter handle and a business WhatsApp account. “Our customers can now access our services at the comfort of their homes, offices and or their palms,” he said
The Director General went on to state that NASSIT had re-introduced the pigeon-hole system to effectively monitor benefit claims processing, and that his team also introduced the Customer Birthday Wish programme, “which recognises our esteemed customers on their birthdays, and we organized a first of its kind Customer Service Mobile Clinic in Freetown”.
Mr. Daboh also spoke about Project 54+ which he said would interface with customers from both the public and private sectors, especially those within the ages of 54 to 59 in order to ensure that their data is up-to-date before they applied for their retirement benefits.
He informed journalists that NASSIT had completed a nationwide sensitisation programme for personnel of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), and that they were conducting a similar programme for the Sierra Leone Police to be followed by those for Teachers, Civil Servants and members in the private sector.
The Director General also spoke about the commencement of NASSIT operations in Port Loko, and the acquisition of a parcel of land for the construction of a permanent Regional Office complex in the Northwest Region.
“My Management, in collaboration with the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, has established the Social Security Court for all NASSIT compliance cases. This will definitely address the perennial problems of non-compliance,” Daboh noted.
On the COVID 19 pandemic, Daboh said that despite the challenges it posed on the Scheme’s contribution base, the Trust was able to break new grounds to ensure that contributions collection remained consistent. In addition, the Director General explained that the Trust embarked on intensive information dissemination campaigns through various media platforms on the standard operating procedures for the COVID 19 disease, and also contributed financially to the National Corona Virus Emergency Response Centre (NACOVERC) for the fight against the deadly disease.
Speaking on the theme, “The Role of the Media in the Enhancement of the NASSIT Scheme”, the DG lauded the contribution of the media to the attainment of the Trust’s objectives.
“The Trust has used various media channels, programmes and activities to not only raise awareness, but also to deepen the knowledge of the Trust’s membership on the operations of the scheme, advertise our products and publicise our activities,” he stated, adding, “You have not only helped in promoting our activities but also served as a channel of feedback from our customers”.
He used the occasion to call on Proprietors of Media Houses to comply with the NASSIT Act.
“As partners in the enhancement of social security, we crave your indulgence to comply with the dictates of the NASSIT Act, and I want to appeal to the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists to encourage its members to register their employees and pay contributions on their behalf,” he maintained.
Ahmed Sahid Nasrallah, President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists commended the Director General for the tremendous strides taken to change the trajectory at NASSIT. He said as the watchdogs of society, they were impressed with the improvements in the institution, and encouraged the Director General and team to do more.
The SLAJ President entreated his colleagues to continue informing and educating the masses to raise awareness on their responsibility and that of the scheme.
“People should be educated about their entitlements and how to access them,” he maintained.
Nasrallah ended his statement with a call on the Media to seek the welfare of their employees by paying their Social Security contributions and assured NASSIT of full compliance with the provisions of the NASSIT Act next year.
The programme was chaired by the Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, George Khoryama, and the vote of thanks was given by Madam Saptieu Kallon of Radio Democracy 98.1 FM.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper