|Mr. M. Manjang, MD, SSHFC|
In the midst of several scandals swirling around the Barrow administration there was one bright spot, namely the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, where initial reform measures undertaking was beginning to show signs of a financial turn-around under the effective leadership of Mohammed Manjang.
Unfortunately, the momentum that was building was interrupted by a handful of disgruntled staff who were clearly unhappy with the new management's cost-controlling measures including efforts by management to recover outstanding staff loans.
The audited accounts of 2017, show a net operating profit of D83.5 million compared to 2016's loss of D26 million. The cost management strategy that was put in place and rigorously implemented was also beginning to yield the desired effect resulting in costs being brought down by D88 million. Prior to being sent on involuntary leave, the Managing Director revealed that "every single Fund was profitable in 2017 compared to 2016 when only the Pensions and Injuries Fund were profitable."
The panel appointed by President Barrow to investigate the causes of the disruptions at SSHFC concluded that the staff demonstrations, including the blocking of access to corporate headquarters were not in accordance to the law. In citing the Labor Act, the panel said the protesting staff contravened the law and recommended that disciplinary action be taken against them.
In confirming that the MD found the financial and management distress, the panel did not attribute staff resistance to the cost-cutting measures being implemented but rather on management's decision to implement the recommendations of a consultant following an institutional assessment and staff audit which demanded a rationalization exercise that would necessarily involve retrenchment and redeployment among other measures. Once this became known to the rest of the staff, they became agitated and thus the demonstrations.
The panel shares the view with many Gambians that SSHFC needs reform desperately, especially after decades of bad governance. In this regard, the panel recommends the implementation of the consultant's recommendations contained in the report entitled " Institutional Assessment and Human Resource Audit" conducted by Senghore Associates.
It is now time for the Barrow government put the crisis behind them by immediately reinstating the Managing Director and allowing the new Board Chairman and his rest of his Board colleagues to exercise their legally mandated duties, with minimal interference, under the SSHFC Act.