May 10, 2013, 11:25 AM
Over the years the number of applicants for a clearance certificate to do business and trade keeps going down, a trend that remains a cause for concern, according to SSHFC officials.
They said there was a need to look into the matter with stakeholders to know the actual problems, and why eligible institutions are not forthcoming to register with the social security authorities.
The SSHFC last Thursday convened a day’s stakeholders meeting on the clearance certificate for the renewal of a business certificate and trade licence.
It was convened in collaboration with various stakeholders such as the Gambia Revenue Authority, Gambia Tourism Board, Inspector General of Police, Registrar General’s Office, GIEPA, Chamber of Commerce, and the National Training Authority, among others,
The meeting afforded participants the opportunity to discuss the clearance certificate issue, which the organisers want participants to be looked into in relation to businesspeople who fail to register with the social security authorities.
The meeting was held at the Clay Oven Fajara, and provided the SSHFC officials the chance to remind the participants of the existing social security laws.
Gibrael Mendy, director of operations at the SSHFC, revealed that SSHFC had registered 2036 employers in 2010, but it was only 509 employers that went to seek for a clearance certificate from the institution.
He called on the Registrar General’s office to help SSHFC to ensure that people registered, and at the right place.
Mr Mendy at the forum explained the different types of schemes that the SSHFC were mandated to operate. These are the federated pension scheme, national provident fund, industrial injuries compensation fund and housing finance fund.
In June 1990, the Gambia government passed into law the injuries compensation Act which replaced the workman’s compensation Act of 1940.
However, it was not until in July 1996 that the new scheme was formally launched introducing a social insurance scheme for protection against employment injury.
The Act establishing the industrial injuries compensation scheme applies to all employers and workers in government, public enterprises, local government authorities and private sector, he added.
The industrial compensation Act does not apply to casual workers on piece-meal contracts, domestic workers, members of the employer’s family dwelling in employer’s house and out workers.
The Act requires employers to pay the entire contribution each month on behalf of their workers, he said, adding that at present the contribution rate was 1 percent of total earnings.
He said salary and other allowances subject to a maximum contribution ceiling of D15. However, if a worker’s total earning exceed D1500 per month, the contribution payable is limited to D15, and the entire contribution shall be borne by the employer by deducting from the earnings of the workers.
The SSHFC and Labour Department are the main administrators of the scheme with the Social Welfare and Medical and Health Departments, ministry of Justice providing specialist support services and advice.
As regards the role of the SSHFC in the process, he said upon receipt of a claim file from the office of the commissioner of injuries, the SSHFC as trustees of the fund verifies the claim to establish validity of claim, pays the injured worker or his/ her survivors the compensation due.
The role of the medical authority is to provide treatment to the injured worker, to conduct medical examinations and determine the percentage of incapacity in cases of injuries unspecified in the schedule to the Act, which becomes the basis for determination of the compensation due.
Mr Mendy noted that compensation was paid in respect of death/fatal accident, permanent total incapacity, permanent partial incapacity and temporary incapacity total/partial.
He said when death occurs as a result of an accident or occupational disease, 120 months of the deceased member’s earnings, as defined in the Act was paid to beneficiaries to a maximum earnings of D1,500 per month or D100,000, whichever was greater.
Edward Gomez, senior fund manager, said SSHFC was established by an Act of parliament in June 1981and operations started in January 1982.
He said the federated pension scheme was created by SSHFC for protection of workers in quasi-government organizations.
The FPS covers workers of quasi/semi-government organizations, while the national provident fund (NPF) provides protection to private sector employees.
The industrial injuries compensation fund and its application covers employees of both the private and public sectors, including civil servants.