‘NASSIT in sound financial footing’ – not in USD$30m deal


- says Acting Director General

OCTOBER 22, 2014 By Alusine Sesay

Acting Director General of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) has assured Sierra Leoneans that the scheme “is in a very sound financial footing” and that the current contribution rates are adequate to finance its operations for the next 20 to 50 years.

It was reported in the media that NASSIT had dished out a whopping US$30 million to a private individual investor to fund a poultry project, for which the report alleged that the sum of US$1 million has been released for the said project.

Reacting to the allegation, Joseph Sedu Mans Jr. told a news conference in Freetown yesterday that the NASSIT Act No.5 of 2001 gives the institution the mandate to invest any part of its funds that are not immediately required to be expended, “taking into consideration the safety and yield, liquidity and the need to maintain the real value, and spread the investment in the interest of the public”.

He described the publications as “mischievous, untrue and a calculated ploy to tarnish the good image of the Trust and some of its staff”.

“Before any investment is entered into, there are laid down processes and procedures that must be followed to the letter,” said the acting NASSIT DG. “Investment proposals from organizations/institutions are vetted and scrutinized by the Investment Division before they are sent to the Management Investment Committee, then to the Board Investment Committee and then finally to the Board of Trustees before any action is taken. There is no investment that has not got the approval of the Board.”

He said NASSIT invests part of the money in the social security fund, but always makes sure there is enough money to pay benefits.

“It is worthy to note that investment is just a secondary component of the institution’s core activities, and funds invested are merely to maintain the value of its reserves. The core functions of the Trust are contributions collection and the payment of benefits as and when they fall due,” Mr. Mans Jr. explained.

He stressed the importance of investment to the financial viability of the Trust but observed that: “We cannot allow the scheme’s investments performance to overshadow the core operations of the institution, which include identification and registration of employers and employees, collection of contributions and most importantly payment of benefits.”

Since its inception, he said NASSIT has been valuated three times by a “highly credible Actuarial Firm” based in Canada and that the last Actuarial report guaranteed that the institution’s current contribution rates are adequate to finance the scheme for the next 20 years.

“Let me assure you and the general public that NASSIT is in a very sound financial footing, and the interest of the scheme, albeit its members, is key in all our activities as a Trust,” he said.

To eradicate fraud and impersonation, he said NASSIT recently initiated the process of verifying all government pensioners, and that they have verified over 6,000 pensioners in the Western Area while modalities are already in place to verify those in the regions after the Ebola outbreak.

He said the Trust is administering the payment of two types of pension, which include government pension and the NASSIT pension.

“NASSIT as a corporate institution was established to pay pensions and other related benefits. It is in this spirit that government transferred the payment of all government pensioners who were paid at the Treasury department,” he said.

The acting NASSIT boss disclosed that as at October 2014, they have 18,576 government pensioners, while 13,789 beneficiaries are claiming the NASSIT pension.

He clarified other issues relating to the purchase of land at Charlotte and revealed that the Trust has 100 acres of land at Regent.

Meanwhile, also speaking, the Director of Investment, Dr. B.I. Bangura, clarified that the Trust did not entirely fund the said poultry project, but rather partly funded it with US$1,500,000, thus owning 30% share in the business.