By Jariatu Bangura & Samuel J. Kargbo
The Tony Blair Academy and SALCOST construction company are among public and private organizations which owe National Social Security Trust (NASSIT) millions of Leones in unpaid social security tax for employees, the ongoing enquiry spearheaded by the Parliamentary Committee on Labour and Industrial Relations has revealed.
Tony Blair Academy owes NASSIT Le.196, 762,127.98, while SALCOST are indebted Le.327, 797,615.78, although they have paid Le.113, 438,926.
Also, Mercy Hospital are to pay Le.4,117,229.27, Nixon Memorial Hospital owe a backlog of Le.6,978,048.85, but have paid Le.5,000,000, Baptist Women’s Union are in arrears of Le.20,654,544.13, Holy Spirit Hospital has a liability of Le.18,000,000 and Sierra Leone Poverty Alleviation Le.53,000,000.
According to Deputy Director General of NASSIT, Mohamed Gbondo, the Tony Blair Academy is one of the institutions they took to court after willfully refusing to pay their debt liability. He revealed that they brought the issue to the attention of Parliament because of they are still being non-compliant.
Principal of Tony Blair Academy, Aiah Sourie, confirmed the school owes NASSIT the amount stated, but that he could not ascertain the exact figure in the absence of the proprietor as he is just an employee. He promised, however, to reach an agreement with NASSIT officials as to the payment plan.
On his part, Momoh Conteh of SALCOST said the company had made half payment of their debt on 20th June, but were unable to pay the full amount because government owes them huge sum of money for over a year.
Members of the Committee raised concerns that many schools and private institutions lack respect for laws of the country as payment of NASSIT fees for employees is stipulated by law, and that institutions found in breach of the law should be barred from operating.
Hon. Dickson Rogers said the institutions in default were robbing the county, which he opined was deliberate, as they should own up to their duties.
The Committee recommended that a grace period be given to all organizations that are yet to pay their fees until Friday, 27th June, 2014, failing which they would face the full penalty of the law.