By: Kebba AF Touray
A group of people calling themselves Members of the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation[SSHFC], have called for interference of the government in the running of the corporation. They expressed this view at a meeting held on Saturday at the B O Semega Janneh Hall.
This meeting is a follow-up to the meeting held a week before. These SSHFC Members and their Board Representative were supposed to report on a meeting with the Vice President, with a view to resolving the Corporation’s ongoing saga.
The meeting was attended by scores of the Members and Board members, and has availed these members the opportunity to interact, clarify their doubts and put their concerns to the Board.
Dilating on the Board Representative Meeting with the Vice President report, Tamsir Sallah, said they had a meeting with the Vice President on Wednesday 5th September 2018 and a frank discussion with him.
He said that The Chairman of the Board put forward the concerns of the Board to the Vice President, that as a board and they should be given the trust they deserve to discharge their obligation and he promised that without government interference, the board would be able to deliver to expectation.
He added: “We appealed to them that as far as governance issues of Social Security is concerned, it should rest on the board, as provided by the…. Act. By virtue of that and what was heard from the members, there should be no government interference in the governance issue of the Social Security, because by doing so that means that they are also obstructing the powers vested in the Board, meaning that they don’t have any trust and confidence in the Board”.
Sallah emphasized that the Board should be fully left to decide on the ways and manners Social Security should operate as far as policy and disciplinary issues are concerned and that the Board should be allowed to deliberate and make decisions on the governance of Social Security.
“There was also a call for the Managing Director on leave to resume work and that the Investigative Panel instituted by the government to be put on halt. We requested for non-government interference, members stand by the decisions of the Board and that the investigative Panel be dissolved or put to stop”, he said.
He said they were made to know by the Vice President that as far as the Chairman of the Board is concerned, it is the government that appoints the Chairman of the Board and the Managing Director of the Social Security, citing them as the agents of government on issues regarding Social Security, in view of which the government had to constitute an investigative panel to probe into the issues and report back to them, from which they will make their decisions. He added that the VP assured them that the government will not undermine the credibility of the board.
Sallah assured the members that the Board will be resolute and will not relent in its efforts to making sure policy issues concerning Social Security will be diligently reviewed and will not compromise with critical issues of the Social Security, while urging the membership to be calm and allow the investigation to go ahead.
Ashyme Saine Kah, on the report on the Members of SSHFC and the Vice President, explicated that the Board and Members were invited by the Vice President, during which the Vice President showed them appreciation of the stand of the members and due to the many allegations levied against the MD, they have come up with the investigative panel to probe into the issue.
“My response to that was that we checked the constitution and what we saw was that section 175 is saying that if there is any panel that is supposed to be setup, it should be the Commission of Inquiry and not an investigative panel, because the problem is we don’t want anybody to undermine the Board, because we said in our resolution that the Members are fully behind the Board and the recommendations of the Board,” she explained. She further said that the Vice President expressed his appreciation but added that because of the allegations that the Social Security Staff are coming up with, they need another investigative panel outside to look into the allegation and give a recommendation.
She was concerned with the government trying to undermine the decisions of the Board. She said they put to them that whatever the outcome of the panel, they are also protecting their interest and they realised that the only person who can do that is the Managing Director.
She further said: “We told them that we cannot make any confirmation, because we are there on behalf of the members, but will convey the message to the members for them to discuss it in today’s meeting and whatever we have will be put in writing and send it to the government through the Board to know what our stand.”
Members have called for the full independence of the Board from government interference, a halt to the investigative panel, the Managing Director to resume work, who they said is on an administrative leave.
The members also recommended for the SSHFC Act to be reviewed, the Board to address Finance Ministry’s interference in the affairs of SSHFC, thorough audit of Social Security and the restructuring of the SSHFC among others.