(J. Cholo Brooks – 0777461010)
The National Social Security & Welfare Corporation or NASSCORP in short has significantly been contributing towards the growth and development of the Liberian economy over the years, also helping to impact the lives of Liberians.
The Act creating the National Social Security & welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), first passed by the National Legislature on July 10, 1995, and re-instituted in 1980 by the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) Decree No. 14, provides future financial security for insured employees and their dependents.
This provision applies in the event of loss of natural ability to earn income, temporarily or permanently due to work-related injury, occupational disease, invalidity or death.
This Act considers NASSCORP as a caring and responsive social security institution, providing adequate social protection for the covered population. Beginning in the 1980s, various managements began setting the base for the herculean task enshrined in the Act establishing NASSCORP.
The employment Injury Scheme (EIS) was launched on February 1, 1980 followed by the National Pension Scheme (NPS) in September 1988. As the Corporation began implementing the NPS, a devastating civil war raged Liberia which disrupted its activities.
The corporation’s problems deepened as successive factional governments, from 1991 to 2005, took charge but failed to develop a blueprint or earmark programs or projects that would have developed the institution as envisioned in the 1975 Act.
Following the cessation of hostilities and democratic election in 2005, the President-elect, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, upon inauguration in January 2006, constituted a management team with Francis M. Garbah as Director General and Dewitt vonBallmoos as Deputy Director General.
This team took over the corporation when it was saddled with myriads of problems including loss of assets, obsolete laws, dwindling sources of contributions, backlog of benefit arrears, lack of effective leadership and a bloated staff.
Two years after assuming authority of NASSCORP, the management drew up a Strategic Plan in early 2008 that was printed and distributed to workers, stakeholders and others.
Major provision in the plan included developing and installing an electronic database, establishing a modern document management system, and streamlining and automating claims payment process.
Other targets included re-documenting contributing employees and employers, establishing a central facility for storing partner’s documents, undertaking an actuarial review of existing structure and organizing stakeholders’ consultations to build consensus.
The plan also called for designing and conducting a vigorous public information and education drive for partners, rebuilding the financial management and accounting system, establishing a robust rick-analysis framework to increase investment and undertaking a vigorous human resource development to raise staff performance level.
Following the expiration of the five-year Strategic Plan, this article provides a platform for enlightenment on key indicators. Outcomes of the strategic targets that have resuscitated the social security program of Liberia, including other achievements from 2008 to 2014, are elaborated upon.
In order to fulfill the purpose of the social security program and to build and sustain the trust and confidence of stakeholders and the public, the plan targets effective service delivery by making benefit payments reliable, regular and prompt.
In 2008 the management began the process with thorough verification of beneficiaries’ payrolls to make sure those showing up were the right beneficiaries. This process was followed by the introduction of a direct bank payment service described as an efficient and risk-reduction measure to safeguard the interest of beneficiaries and the corporation.
As a result, beneficiaries have no reason to come to NASSCORP office to receive checks since payments go directly to banking institutions around the country at the end of each year.
The next plan introduced was a biometric identification program, a protective measure intended to avoid duplicity of beneficiaries’ payrolls and accelerate benefit payment. During the exercise, bio-data of each and every beneficiary was recorded into the corporation’s database. This has drastically reduced the burden if verifying or distinguishing between identical names and has also curtailed the pilfering of beneficiaries’ accounts by unscrupulous individuals.
The first phase of the biometric exercise commenced in 2010 targeting 6,000 persons;of this number, 3,500 beneficiaries underwent the exercise within a year. This was a clear indication that many of those on the payrolls tampered with accounts of beneficiaries. A second biometric was conducted in 2013 to update records in the database, the end of which recorded 6,764 beneficiaries as of December 2013.
Benefit payments have been unhindered with a cumulative amount of US$15.96 million from 2008 to 2013. Disbursement were US$1.56 million for 2008, US$1.9 million for 2009, US$3.2 million for 2010, US$2.7 million for 2011, US$3million for 2012 and US$3.6 million in 2013.
In order to effectively respond to inquiries from beneficiaries, a service section was established that provides easy access for verifying claims or benefits. The process also reduced the number of complaints from beneficiaries.
Since the birth of NASSCORP by the Liberian Government which is approaching 40 years ago now, giving that Corporation the permission to carry out a more responsive social protection program in Liberia is impacting the lives of thousands.
A retrospective look at this Corporation over the years since its establishment, revealed how several reforms have been taken place cataloging the modernization of the Corporation’s several sectors.
NASSCORP is significantly making a greater impact in it operations as compared to yesteryears when the Corporation was fighting hard in the preparation of its beneficiaries payments to thousands of its clients nationwide.
Since the passing of the 1975 Act of the National Legislature creating the National Social Security & Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), according to report, this Corporation has made significant progress in improving the livelihood of workers who are covered under the scheme as well as their dependents.
The introduction of the biometric system for beneficiaries, and the automated record system of employers and employees, including the new accounting system put in place, and the investment portfolio being resuscitated by the entity’s hard working administration give reason for people to believe that NASSCORP is on par with other corporate institutions worldwide.
These glaring reforms at NASSCORP being put in place by its management team headed by its hardworking Director General, Mr. Dewitt vonBallmoos, and his principal deputies have indeed succeeded in putting the Corporation on par with other institutions around the globe.
Their professional services at this unique Corporation, each year give several media houses to pour praises on the management team by awarding the Corporation several certificates of honor due to its dedication and handwork to the Liberian people.
A sampling survey conducted by this news outlet also revealed that since the establishment of NASSCORP, its educational aspect on insured Liberian population on the social protection schemes program continues to widen; the launch of the schemes has afforded employees and their employers the opportunity to be aware of their rights, benefits and responsibilities.
Although the social security program of Liberia has, to a larger extent, impacted the lives of thousands of workers, their dependents and others in the society, “It is indeed saddening to note that the program’s coverage has been limited to the formal sector, while the informal sector is excluded, despite its importance to the growth of the Liberian society,” one of its newsletters editorial noted.
As a way of giving to the Liberian people on June 6, 2014, NASSCORP dedicated its multi-purpose commercial complex, a major component of the entity’s investment portfolio.
This modern complex is strategically situation at the ELWA junction; a structure that has given the Cities of Monrovia and Paynville a beautiful look, making all passersby, or those visiting Liberia for the first to be excited of its look.
The US$11million multi-purpose complex, which is the single largest infrastructure development of the entity’s investment portfolio, represents 48 percent of NASSCORP’s Real Property Assets. It is a major commercial center and tourist’s attraction for Liberia.
Due to its professional service delivering system to the people of Liberia, NASSCORP was in 2014 awarded a ‘Good Practice Award’ by the International Social Security Association (ISSA).
According to report, NASSCORP was among 29 members institutions from 22 African countries that submitted 58 entries for the ISSA Good Practice Award Competition.
This prestigious award presentation to NASSCORP took place on December 3, 2014 in Casablanca, Morocco with ISSA’s President Errol Frank Stoove making the presentation to NASSCORP Deputy Director General, Nya D. Twayen, Jr. The ceremony brought together 300 delegates from 41 member state.
With all of the above progress been made by the management of NASSCORP over the years, Liberians and foreign residents who spoke to this outlet, praised the entire management team for a job well done, and urged others to follow the splendid example of the Dewitt vonBallmoos’ administration.