The National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) has ended day workshop for Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Department at the Kimbima Hotel in Freetown.
The NASSIT Deputy Director-General (membership) Gibril Saccoh said that the objective of the workshop was to discuss issues affecting NASSIT payers in various institutions and suggest ways as to how some of the problems would be solved.
Giving an overview of the NASSIT scheme, Head of Public Affairs, Peter Kaneh said that it is a statutory Public Trust established by Parliament (Act No5 of 2001) charged with the responsibility of administering Sierra Leone’s National Pension Scheme.
He added that the Trust is guaranteed by the state and is autonomous, adding that the objective for which the scheme was established (section15 (1) is to provide retirement and other benefits to meet the contingency needs of workers and their dependants.
He also stated that, the functions of the Trust include the registration of employers and employees, collection of contributions, maintenance of membership data, issuance of statement of accounts to members and management of surplus funds in the public’s interest in line with sound investment principles considering the liquidity, safety and yield.
Kaneh pointed out that, membership of the scheme is compulsory for all formal workers with an employer- employee relationship, stressing that it is mandatory for all employers to ensure that their workers are registered with the scheme.
He noted that it is voluntary for self –employed persons, who may join the scheme as voluntary contributors.
On contributions, he said that, employers deducts 5% from the employee’s earnings and pays another 10% on behalf of the employees, to give a total contribution of 15%.
Voluntary member he said pays the full 15% on his or her declared income, disclosing that contingences covered by the Scheme are old age, invalidity and death.
He disclosed that contingency members of the scheme enjoy the benefits of any of the three contingencies (Old Age, Invalidity and Survivors).
In her presentation on NASSIT benefits and qualifying conditions, Head of Benefits Department, Mahawa Silla said that old age benefits [pension full] is when a member attains age 60 and has paid contributions or earned credits for a minimum of 180 months; and [reduced] is when a member retires early or after attaining age 55 but before reaching the retirement age of 60 years.
She explained that, when a member retires early or voluntarily at 60 years he or she receives 100% of his pension right; at 59 receives 96% of pension right; at 58 receives 92%; at 57 receives 88%; at 56 receives 84% and at 55 receives 80% of pension right.
On the issue of the delay in benefit processing, the Head of Customer Service, Princess Hawa Minah said that most employers failed to register their employees with the scheme; and also Social Security (SS) 1A forms are not vetted properly by employers, adding that most times, “the information on the SS 1A form is different from that on their personal records”.
She recommended that employers ensure that all employees who are below the age of 60 are registered with the scheme and employers should ensure that all SS contributions are paid on behalf of employees.
On the part of employees, she said that most of them fail to register with the scheme; while most government employees fail to state their PIN Codes when applying for benefits and that some employees register more than once leading to two or more SS numbers.
She recommended that employees register as soon as they are employed, that is they have not been previously registered; and that government employees should state their PIN Codes when applying for benefits.
Director of Operations Division, Mohamed Gondoe, recommended that employers should take the responsibility to ascertain the correctness of employees’ bio-data; all registration forms must be endorsed by the employing authority and promptly forwarded to NASSIT to facilitate the speedy generation of Social Security number and the printing of ID cards.
Comments, suggestions and recommendations were made by the Establishment Secretary Ernest Surrur, Deputy Accountant-General Richard Williams, representatives from government departments, permanent secretaries and Journalists on what NASSIT should engage on.
By Abibatu Kamara