By Omar Bah
The Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC), has recently commenced a vigorous awareness creation campaign with a successful meeting at the SOS Senior Secondary School.
The meeting was meant to educate staffers of the school on the role and functions of the SSHFC to bridge some of the information gaps between the SSHFC and its members.
The daylong convergence centered on the services provided by the SSHFC such as Industrial injury compensation scheme, housing fund, national provident fund and federated pension scheme.
Speaking to The Standard shortly after the meeting, David Mendy, SSHFC Assistant Public Relations Officer said such awareness campaign is part of the regular routines of the education unit, saying it is part of the membership education sessions.
He thanked institutions for continuing to invite the SSHFC team to share with them on the various funds managed by this institution. “I want to thank the SOS for accepting our request and I wish to encourage other institutions to do the same. SSHFC value its esteem members and it is only when they talk to us that they would be able to know what we do”.
He further added: “This will be extended to the provinces to ensure that Gambians are well enlightened when it comes to the operations of the SSHFC. We have an open door policy and we want people to please seek the opportunities to engage us for relevant assistance and support.”
He said plans are underway for them to start regular media briefings and talk shows about the services the Corporation renders. During the meeting, Mendy urged participants to be very mindful when it comes to spelling their names in their social security form during registration and urge them to provide correct documentation.
Mr Mendy said that employers are required to pay 10% of their employees’ social security contributions and that the employees are to pay 5% of their basic salary.
He also emphasized that SSHFC membership is mandatory if one is working in registered institutions.
Mendy added that SSHFC is rigorously improving in terms of performance compared to previous years.
He also reminded the participants that when members are registered with the federated pension scheme and serve beyond ten years, they are entitled to monthly pension payments.
“However, if you are registered with the national provident fund you are only entitled to onetime payment package after retirement and if you decide to retire voluntarily you will be paid half and then if you turn to your retirement age you will be given the rest,” he added.
Louis Gomes, a senior teacher at SOS Senior Secondary School said they have learned a lot from the meeting “and if this day had come little earlier, I would have made better decisions compared to the one I took. Just to say, I would have chosen the provident fund instead of the federated pension scheme”.
“I believe people sometimes blame the SSHFC wrongly simply because they don’t know. I never knew an individual can open an account at SSHFC. This is new to me and the industry injuries fund is also new to me. This training and awareness building is great day for the entire school and we encourage the Corporation to engage us more,” he added.
He added: “I will go home assured about SSHFC and what they stand for. All staffers from our school are well sensitized and well informed to ensure that whatever is their entitlement they will get it accordingly and that if there is a payment gap they will be made aware by consulting SSHFC to find out”.
“I want to assure the Social Security that I will henceforth serve as their ambassador in the school and everywhere. Whenever I hear people talking negatively about SSHFC I will be in a better position to put the record straight,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, the SSHFC Director of Corporate Affairs, Fabuka Njaay said: “SSHFC will continue to interact with its customers in order to facilitate value co-creation by listening to their suggestions and concerns and incorporating these into our overall strategic direction”.
He said the SSHFC as an institution is established to deliver a service to the public and it is imperative that they meet or exceed their customers’ expectations across all metrics of the service quality spectrum.
“We shall continue to consult with other institutions to accord us the opportunity to visit them and share useful information through our Members Education Sessions on our service offerings especially with regard to the management of the various funds within our purview,” he added.
Njaay said the establishment is to launch an interactive website soon which would offer useful information and tools to all stakeholders including the ability to calculate benefits on their own via the platform.
“Finally, we assure our customers that SSHFC is dedicated towards value creation on all funds managed by the institutions and we shall continue to engage our customers and input their suggestions and interest in this value enhancement process,” he stressed.