By: Kebba AF Touray
Following the completion of their investigations into the industrial dispute at the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC), the Investigative Panel submitted their report to the President yesterday October i8th at State House.
A six member panel was on the 28th August 2018, constituted by President Barrow and tasked with the responsibility of probing into the aforesaid industrial saga that erupted at the said Corporation.
Presenting the report to the President, the Chairperson of the panel Lamin Samateh, said they completed their assignment with interviews conducted for some staff, and looked at the Staff complaints in their petition, and various incidents that happened during the saga, structural and systemic weaknesses of the Corporation as stipulated in their TOR, and came up with recommendations.
“In tracing the background and causes of the crises, the panel established that on assuming duty, the Managing Director Muhammed Manjang found the institution in severe financial and management distress. We had then set out to address some of the problems discovered by embarking on a number of cross cutting measures which did not at the time, appear to have provoked resistance from the staff,” he said; that part of the measures they chose to address, was through the commissioning of the institutional assessment and staff audit of the Corporation by an independent consultancy firm, and a report of that exercise with a number of recommendations with implementations, would mean that the staff would have to be entrenched or redeployed, appointment and promotions would need to rationalize; that Staff skills would have to be looked at against the functions they carry out.
He said the panel observed that the Corporation generally needs reforms, as it has severely suffered from bad governance of recent decades and the panel thus recommended the full implementation of the recommendations contained in the consultancy report entitled: Institutional Assessment and Human Resources Audit, by Senghore Associates.
“The implementation of the recommendations in the report, will be beneficial to the owners of the Corporation who are the Pensioners and the Contributors. It could also be beneficial to the staff who are the trustees and of course the country at large”, he said.
He disclosed that change is absolutely necessary at the SSHFC and those who may be charged to bring about reforms, must communicate effectively with all who may be affected; that the panel recommended that the Board of Directors responsible for policy formulation and overall management and control of the Corporation, be supported strongly in the reform process.
“The panel also sees the need for the Board to request for expertise in the reform process implementation, to help the board and management ensure full implementation of the proposed reforms,” he said; that the panel is of the view that those who have broken the Laws and regulations and staff rules during the crises, be disciplined by the board, saying that rule of law and stability at workplaces, must be maintained in order to bring about the benefits of development to the people, with particular reference to Section 15 subsection 2, and Section 139 of the Labor Act 2007, and subsection 3 of the Ombudsman Act of 1997, and Section 9 of the Public Order Act, as well as 0504 of the Service Rules of the Corporation; that there were serious lapses in the way staff expressed their concerns for redress and settlement, and thus contraband these sections.
On his part, the President thanked the panel for the good jobdone, which he cited is a test to the country’s democracy; that with the cooperation of the citizenry is a strong foundation that can be built for the nation’s democracy.
“The report will help Government in making decisions. I will sit down with my team and make sure we look at the report. If there is the need to consult you, we will, in order to make a correct decision in the interest of the Gambia, in the interest of Social Security, and in the interest of workers in this country”, he concludes.