By Foday Moriba Conteh
The Commissioner of the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) Abu Bockarie Kokofele on Thursday 2nd July,2020 engaged and addressed pressmen at the institution’s office on Charlotte Street in Freetown, on the success of the Lockdowns cash transfer and the Covid-19 Emergency Cash transfer and the start of the Covid-19 Ep Fet Po/SSN.
He met with members of the Fourth Estate in the wake of NaCSA’s exoneration by the Anti-Corruption Commission in an alleged fraud allegation relating to the Cash Transfer for Persons with Disability and other vulnerable groups during the first and second lockdowns.
This ACC’s investigations cleared all four suspended NaCSA staffs accused of misappropriating the said fund as was shown in a video footage published by AYV TV since there was no evidence linking them to the crime.
During the Press conference, Abu Bockarie Kokofele, said the lockdown cash transfer was exclusively Government funded in order to cushion the economic impact of COVID-19 on disable and other vulnerable groups whilst the emergency cash transfer is part of the Social Safety Net Project funded by the Government of Sierra Leone and the World Bank.
He disclosed how from the US$ 30M funding provided by the World Bank under the Social Safety Nets Project, USD4M was set aside as contingency funding which was activated following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone. The fund targeted households with vulnerable informal sector workers including those working in micro and small enterprises and low paid workers in the service sector.
The Commissioner described the COVID-19 Emergency cash transfer as a success and he informed that the COVID-19 Ep Fet Po/ SSN has begun and teams have been dispatched to the provinces to target and enrol potential beneficiaries. He said the project will now run for a year instead of its initially timeframe but however stated that the number of beneficiaries and their packages have been increased with each household receiving 2 sets of payments.
The Commissioner also stated that in order to ensure transparency and accountable process, NaCSA, World Bank and other partners, immediately upon declaration of the emergency by President Bio engaged in series of discussions, which he said resulted in the establishment of a manual to guide the process of cash transfer.
He said the 56 pages document developed by partners globally incorporated clear defined objectives and indications with a defined procedure on every step in the activities to be implemented, which includes but not limited to identification, selection and categories of beneficiaries and geographical targeting among others.
In terms of payment, Abu Bockarie Kokofele said, the Social Safety Net has a third party payment provider arrangement, which in this case, he said involves the Banks. He said they also have their own steps to follow, including cross checking with NaSCA, leading to the pay point.
On the COVID-19 ECT, the Commissioner said following allegations of exclusion of potential beneficiaries and inclusion of people not qualified into the scheme, which they found worrisome, they have engaged all parties involved including FCC to identify the challenges and proffer solutions, since NaCSA, he said, does not select beneficiaries.
He however assured that payment in Freetown will resume shortly after all structures had been put in place while recalling its successful implementation in Kenema, Makeni and Bo districts respectively.