By Amin Kef Sesay
The Managing Director of Punjab Distilling Company, Madam Victoria Vanday Bernard, has on October 10, 2020 refuted claims made by Ibrahim Bai Koroma-the Executive Director of Citizens Rights Network Sierra Leone (CRN).
The Manager intimated journalists in a press briefing organized at the company’s headquarter in Kenema that the briefing was aimed at making clarifications on misconceptions/allegations made by the Executive Director of CRN -SL.
Victoria said, the Executive Director has misinformed journalists in Freetown during a presser that her company is “…breaching the labour laws and workers’ rights, amongst others, in Sierra Leone.”
The Manager stated that in a publication by the Whispers Newspaper on Monday, October 5, 2020, Ibrahim further alleged that “The Punjab company fails to pay its licenses and the certificate of analysis to the Standards Bureau. “And that the company is further denying workers’ rights to having appropriate PPEs.
She debunked all the allegations against the company referring to them as malicious.
Madam Victoria Bernard showed journalists most of the company’s documents including NASSIT payment of staff, licenses amongst others. She confessed to have received calls from both the Executive Director and publisher of the said newspaper, but that she was sick and hospitalized at the Kenema Government hospital. She furthered that the duo were asked to come to the office for verification, which they failed to do.
The Chief Executive Officer of the company Kuldeep Singh expressed his dissatisfaction over the article/publication after he receive several calls from the CFN executive concerning the letter he wrote demanding him to respond at a time when he was busy with other issues.
He also said he received the letter on the 27th September and the press briefing was held on the 29th September by Ibrahim Bai Koroma Executive Director CRN.
He further reiterated, during the press briefing that, clarifications and thorough investigation into matters of journalist or CSO should always be at the center of their operation not losing the facts of foreigners rights and and protection. However, the company is and will be always committed in upholding the norms and values of the country through the national laws. Concluded he admonished all to drink responsibly and children below 18 are not allowed to buy either access the product right across the country.
The journalists, after the Press Conference, were taken on a conducted tour of the premises of the company to ascertain whether the environment was worker-friendly and tidy, which was proven to be conducive.