By The Voice Reporter
The Managing Director of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC), Saloum Malang, has given a picture of the social security situation in The Gambia at the recently concluded International Social Protection Conference held at the Sir Dawda KairabaJawara Conference Centre in Bijilo.
In a presentation before national and international delegates, the SSHFC chief outlined the different players that are involved in social security/ protection in the Gambia, the different schemes, administering organizations, population groups legally covered,pensionable age and the benefits payments.
The assessment by the Managing Director (MD) underscores the dedicated leadership in the Gambia, as evidenced by the state of Social Security.
‘’This commitment is highlighted through the incorporation of Strategic Priority 4 in the National Development Plan (NDP), which focuses on Human Capital Development, Education, Healthcare, and Social Protection.’’
‘’Moreover, the establishment of the National Social Protection Secretariat (NSPS) under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President serves as a strong reinforcement of this dedication,’’ he added.
MD Malang, while discussing the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC), highlighted the noteworthy status of the Gambia’s social security system, citing its international recognition.
His involvement as a current member of the International Social Security Association (ISSA) Bureau, the governing body of ISSA, underscores this recognition.
Additionally, he serves as a member of the Constitutional Review Committee responsible for reviewing the ISSA Constitution. Notably, sister countries frequently visit the SSHFC to study and benchmark their programs, with a particular focus on Project 59.
Project 59, an initiative launched by the Corporation, aims to ensure the preparedness of retirement benefits for members at age 59, ensuring prompt payment upon their retirement at 60 years.
He also added that the landscape of Social Security in The Gambia extends to encompassing the informal sector, a realm in which the SSHFC has spearheaded initiatives to incorporate non-formal laborers such as market vendors and individuals from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.
“As of 30th September 2023, scheme total membership for the National Provident Fund (NPF) stood at 157, 084 employees. Of these 4,950 employees were registered in 2023 as of 30th September. In case of the Federated Pension Scheme, total employee membership stood at 17, 517 as of 30th September 2023. However, 394 new employees were added in 2023 as of 30th September, MD Malang revealed.”
He emphasized that the Corporation has proactively implemented pioneering strategies to enhance its communication and community outreach initiatives. For instance, during the third quarter of 2023, the Corporation’s Facebook page garnered an impressive influx of over 3,000 new followers, positioning it as the second most followed State-Owned Enterprise (SOE).
In fostering communication between SSHFC and its stakeholders, MD Saloum Malang revealed a comprehensive strategy implemented in 2022. This involved conducting 50 seminars across diverse member institutions to enhance awareness.
Additionally, regular meetings with the Pensioners Committee were organized to actively engage and address their concerns.
Leveraging a multi-faceted approach, the institution employed traditional media for advertising purposes and significantly amplified its utilization of social media channels to maximize outreach and engagement.
MD Malang indicated that currently the Corporation is automating and digitalizing social security operations to reduce process time and cost by developing a unique system called Social Security Management Information System (SSMIS) comprising various sub-systems including one for member registration and records management, customer relationship management system, system for claim processing and benefit payments, mortgage management system etc.
Once these are operational, members would be able to view their statements online via a dedicated mobile app and member’s portal.
The MD’s comprehensive presentation covered several critical facets of the Corporation, delving into its investments, subsidiaries, and the significant accolades bestowed upon them.
Notably, SSHFC’s international acclaim was underscored, alongside the strategic mechanisms established to surmount a range of challenges.
One notable highlight was Trust Bank, wherein the Corporation holds the majority share, boasting the highest number of certified staff in anti-financial compliance within the industry.
Moreover, the subsidiary Ocean Bay Hotel and Resort, under the aegis of Social Security, holds a prestigious position among the top 10 hotels globally, as recognized by the renowned US travel platform, Trip Advisor.
Additionally, emphasis was placed on the pivotal role played by the Gambia Transport Service Company, which, with government support, has significantly eased the populace’s travel needs.
This was exemplified by the introduction of several new buses, enhancing transport services for the community.
The delegates expressed appreciation for the compressive presentation delivered by the SSHFC Managing Director.
Elsewhere in his presentation, the MD also thanked the National Social Protection Secretariat (NSPS) for hosting such an important event on home soil.