Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We Have an Open Door Policy – SSHFC MD

The Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) Thursday 27 January2011 held a one day sensitisation workshop on SSHFC schemes for the media at the corporation’s headquarters. This is the beginning of a series of workshops to be embarked upon by the corporation to keep the general public better informed of the various schemes on offer.
Declaring the workshop open, the newly reinstated managing director, Mr. Tumbul Danso, epitomised the relationship between his institution and the media as symbiotic in nature. “If anything we need the press in our information dissemination campaigns. Currently we are engaged in three housing projects, the Tujereng, Jabang and Brikama Jamisa projects. We have an open door policy and so the public is always encouraged to meet us and raise their concerns,” Mr. Danso told the gathering.
According to the managing director, SSHFC was established in 1982 by an Act of Parliament with housing and social security fund components. The social security fund comprises three schemes, the National Provident Fund (NPF), the Federated Pension Scheme (FPS) and the Industrial Injuries Compensation Fund (IICF).
Deliberating on the success story of the corporation since its inception, Mr. Danso said that going by the  past budget speeches, the institution has made over Ninety-seven dalasis surplus qualifying them for a three month bonus payment as this is paid based on good performance. As a result the corporation was promoted from a third to a first class institution. “People from other countries have been coming here to learn from our experience. If other countries can do it, we can do it too,” Mr. Danso concluded.
The Federated Pension Scheme, according to Raymond Njie, senior public relations manager, took off the ground in 1983.  He  said this scheme until recently is only meant for Parastatals institutions such as the Gambia Ports Authority(GPA) and Gambia Telecommunications Company(GAMTEL) whereas the National Provident Fund(NPF) only affects private institutions. Sonko Jileng, a private business institution has however now opted for the latter. The main differences between the two are that employers are the only contributors of 15 percent of the employee’s salary to the scheme as opposed to the National Provident Fund where both the employer and employee make a monthly contribution of 15 and 5 percent respectively of the employee’s salary. 
The public relations manager of SSHFC, Mr Ebrima Dampha in giving an overview of the significance of the IICF expressed his disappointment with employers who fail to register with the fund. “It is as simple as coming to our office, pick up a form and fill and send it back to us. We go and meet employers in their offices only to tell us that they would get back to us, a promise they would invariably not keep,” Daphna said.  He said the timely reporting of accidents cannot be overemphasized.  He said such accidents do not only include those that happen during working hours but also any accident that occurs two hours before or two hours after work.
Presenting a paper on the housing fund, the estate manager, Alhagie Fatty, traced the origin of the fund to the coming into being of the Bakoteh Housing Estate. “Contrary to public perception we are what we are today thanks to the funds we were able to accrue from the Bakoteh project and our partnership with Shelter Afric based in Kenya.” He said the Kanifing Estate was the first project conceived by the housing fund but unlike the Bakoteh project the Kanifing, Brusubi and subsequent projects are site and service infrastructural development oriented.
The occasion was chaired by Mr. Sulayman Nyass, assistant public relations manager, who also gave the closing remarks while Momodou Edrissa Njie from the News and Report Magazine gave the vote of thanks.

Ezzedeen Absent in Court Again

The continuous absence of Yusuf, a Gambian-Lebanese in court has become the talk of town as rumour spread that he has fled the country.
Yusuf, a businessman has appealed against the death sentence slapped on him for treason in July last year alongside former defense chief Lang Tombong Tamba and co.
His appeal trial underway at the Appeal Court in Banjul could not proceed for four consecutive sittings as the Lebanese Gambian has not been appearing in court.
On the previous sittings the president of the Court of Appeal Justice Wowo asked about Yusuf’s whereabouts, but neither the state counsel nor the defense commented on his continuous absence in court.
And when the case resumed Wednesday, Justice Wowo did not even ask about Yusuf’s whereabouts.
His defense lawyer, Awa Sisay Sabally told the court that records are still not ready and it was subsequently adjourned till February 11.
Meanwhile, Lang Tombong and co appeal application of additional grounds for appeal was granted by the court as the state counsel raised no objection.
The defense was ordered by the chair judge to file their brief on point of law after receiving the respondent brief within 7 days.
The case resumes February 25.

Military Officer Testifies in Alleged Casamance Rebels’ Case

Lieutenant Ousman Bojang, a military officer on Wednesday testified against the 17 suspected rebels from troubled-Casamance region of Senegal charged with illegal possession of firearms in The Gambia.
Yusuf Ceesay and co have alleged entered with arms into The Gambian territory without authority. They are being tried here in The Gambia. 
 Mr. Bojang who appeared as the 3rd prosecution witness told the court that in October last year, he and some officers went to Bajana where the villagers informed that there were armed men loitering around their rice fields.
He said they were unable to see any of them but his colleague who hid on the other side of rice field informed him that 12 suspects were caught in Gambian territory who later led them to where their weapons were hidden.
The officer further told the court that on the 3rd day he got the information that two suspected rebels staying in a compound called Colley Kunda in Besse Village were arrested. He said both admitted being part of the 17 rebels who entered with arms into Gambian territory. He added that no document was found on them, but some arms were recovered from them and the suspects were later transferred to the NIA Headquarters.
The following day, he explained, “I got information that one of the rebels was heading toward Serrekunda. We immediately rushed to the Bullock Check Point, where the suspect was arrested with a motor bike with registration No. MC WD 0210”.
He said a suspect Aziz Kujabi told him that he was among the rebels and that he handed-over his weapon to someone when he entered the Gambia.
The case resume February 10.