As they continue to tour the united States with their message of encouragement for Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to participate in their country’s Pensions and Home Mortgage Schemes, Senior Officials of NASSIT and the HFC Mortgage and Savings (SL) Limited have gathered crowds in Atlanta and Ohio on the 17th and 18th October respectively.
In Atlanta, representatives from both institutions explained the purpose of their visit and their institutional operations using PowerPoint presentations. On the side of NASSIT, Mr. Joe Hassan Kalokoh who is head of Research, Planning and Actuarial Division, projected a well structured and flashy presentation providing an overview of all NASSIT activities, their current strategy to allow Diaspora participation and what the institution stands for. The Managing Director of HFC, Mr. Ahmed Kamara also did a full length presentation on their products and method of accessing them from overseas.
Responding to barrages of questions, the NASSIT officials eloquently explained the main features of the NASSIT Scheme, the qualifying conditions for receiving each of the benefits and the relevance of the institution to national development. Mr. Amara O. Kuyateh, the Deputy Director General, stated that the scheme is for everybody, including Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora. He informed members present that he has been in the United States for thirteen years and the United Kingdom for eleven years and that while he was in these countries he was contributing to their social security schemes, but now that he is in Sierra Leone he contributes to NASSIT – adding that you can never contribute enough as far as social security is concern. He meant to encourage Sierra Leoneans in the United States to consider contributing to their country’s pension scheme even though they are also doing same to their country of resident. Mr. Kuyateh emphasized the active role NASSIT is playing in the country’s financial sector, claiming that NASSIT is currently the second largest institution in the Sierra Leone in terms of funds. He added that NASSIT is always ready to partner with brilliant and successful Sierra Leonean Entrepreneurs.
Mr. Kalokoh noted that it is clear from the various questions received that a significant portion of Sierra Leoneans in the United States are not in formal employment that can guarantee them Social Protection in the face of the inevitabilities of life. These people, according to Mr. Kalokoh, are the reason for their visit. Mr. Kalokoh lamented that every individual should be concerned about what will happen to their dependants should retirement, death or disability set in unexpectedly. He lectured on how people often miss out on their rights as citizens, quoting several international instruments designed to address poverty and income inequality. Mr. Kalokoh claimed that it is possible for Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to participate in the NASSIT scheme and he carefully explained the process involved. In addition, he explained NASSIT’s current role in the introduction of a Social Health Insurance Scheme in Sierra Leone, which he believe will contribute greatly to national development – noting that the Ebola epidemic exposed the weakness of the country’s health system. Mr. Kalokoh concluded that there are even moves by the current NASSIT administration to design an attractive scheme for workers in the informal sector economy who he claimed constitute over 90% of the workforce in Sierra Leone.
On the part of HFC Mortgage and Savings (SL) Limited, the Managing Director, Mr. Ahmed Bakarr Kamara explained the legal framework of his institution. Mr. Kamara provided a brief history of the HFC scheme, stating that “the company was incorporated in July 2007 as a private limited liability company and received its business registration license in October of the same year. “In September 2008, the Bank of Sierra Leone issued the company with a license to operate as a non-bank financial institution under the Other Financial Services Act, 2001. He went further, “In June 2009, the Sierra Leone Parliament enacted the Home Mortgage Finance Act 2009 to regulate home mortgage financing and institutions, which carry on home mortgage financing and to provide for other related matters. “The company commenced operations on 2nd September 2008 and was officially inaugurated on 10 July 2009.” Mr. Yusuf Silla, HFC Director of Credit and Loans explained in details the features of the scheme and the application process.
At the end of each of the meetings application forms were requested in numbers and one-to-one engagements were allowed by the visiting officials. The meetings were generally described as successful and people who attended pleaded with the NASSIT and HFC officials that aggressive follow-ups should be made.