By Abdul Rahman Bah
On Thursday 14 September 2023 at the Freetown International Conference Centre, Bintumani, Aberdeen, the National Social Insurance Trust (NASSIT) inaugurated the informal sector steering committee, during which the Trust gave a full update on progress made in the drive to establish a pension scheme for the informal sector.
The Minister of Employment Labour and Social Security, Hon Mohamed Rahman Swaray, in his statement, said that the scheme is to protect the foundation and security of this country, adding that social security services are very challenging. He maintained that Social Protection is part of the Government’s plan to ensure that people benefit from their work at the end of the day. He lauded NASSIT for the great work, expressing optimism that the scheme that NASSIT has designed will befit Sierra Leoneans and not overburden the Trust.
Minister Swaray said that social security is very important and that including the Private Sector in the scheme, it will enhance development in the country. He thanked the DG and the steering committee members for their hard work in protecting and improving the lives of Sierra Leoneans.
Deputy Director General of NASSIT, Mohamed Gondoe, in his contribution, said that this scheme is very important, as the informal sector, ILo, other key stakeholders and partners have put in their hard work with NASSIT in making the scheme a reality. He furthered that NASSIT is there to provide Social Security and protection services to the informal sector, adding that people in the informal sector stand to benefit from the scheme in their old age. The scheme seeks to protect them during old age, and sickness, as well as caters to people with disabilities, wherein they will be able to get pensioners that will ensure continued sustenance in later life. He concluded by thanking the steering committee and partners.
Regional Director of ILO, Vanessa Phala, said that it is a privilege for ILO to be part of this wonderful meeting, adding that social security is very important in the country and in Africa as a whole, adding that the scheme will help us to achieve sustainable development. She maintained that Social security is ILO’s most important focus in the informal sector, and that social protection is very important in Africa, which is why the ILO is here to expand their membership in the informal sector to achieve sustainable development goals by 2030.
A representative from the Technical Committee, Deputy Chairman, Edwin Kamara, in his status report, said that NASSIT has faced so many challenges through the war, Ebo!a flooding etc. He furthered that after the war, they decided to implement the scheme for the livelihood of the people, disclosing that the informal sector scheme is the idea of the Director General of NASSIT and their partner, ILO. He disclosed that the Committee was setup in July 2022 for the informal sector, including the ILo and the former Minister of Labour, Mr Alpha Timbo.
Several other speakers gave their input, including Dr. Abu Kargbo, a World Bank Representative. They all commended the introduction of this scheme, which they say will help provide security for the future of workers in the informal sector..