International Trade Centre Applauds MUNAFA Fund

Trade Minister, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy 

By Mohamed Sheriff, Information Attaché, Geneva, Switzerland

The Honourable Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Edward Hinga Sandy, accompanied by the Chief Director and Professional Head of the Ministry, Mr Emmanuel Konjoh, held a closed-door meeting with the leadership of the International Trade Centre (ITC) and discussed wide range of issues around Trade Governance Architecture and the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AFCFTA) implementation in Serra Leone.

The International Trade Centre is a joint agency of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The meeting was hosted by the ITC. 

The Sierra Leone delegation was welcomed by ITC’s Deputy Executive Director, Madam Dorothy N. Tembo, and the Chief of Africa Division and Programme Manager for EU-funded West Africa Competitiveness Project (WACOMP), Yared Defecado. 

In her remarks, the ITC Deputy Executive Director, Madam Dorothy N. Tembo, commended Sierra Leone for its initiatives in helping businesses grow back better from the COVID -19 pandemic and made a special commendation of the “MUNAFA FUND” launched by His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) especially those owned by women which account for 70% of beneficiaries. 

The Deputy Executive Director further maintained that the importance of such an innovative financing model is critical to poverty reduction among the ordinary people, and emphasized the ITC would like to closely study, evaluate and learn from Sierra Leone’s ‘’MUNAFA FUND’’ implementation experience and roll it out to other countries for possible programme intervention in future crisis situations.

She assured the Minister of Trade and Industry of her organisation’s commitment to continuing to work with Sierra Leone, and that a New Country Work Programme will be developed for implementation in the near future.

In his response, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Honourable Dr Edward Hinga Sandy, thanked the International Trade Centre Senior Management team for the warm reception accorded to him and his delegation and praised the ITC for its current programme of work in Sierra Leone.

He said the need to build the capacity of MSMEs to becomeexport-ready and market-competitors is critical to the overall private sector development agenda of President Dr Julius Maada Bio’s government. 

Dr Sandy further maintained that the lack of Trade Statistics undermines the design and development of policies and urged the International Trade Centre to work with his Ministry to address this challenge supporting it to roll out the “One Trade Africa Observatory”. 

On the West Africa Competitiveness Project (WACOMP), the Trade Minister noted that the impact is being felt by the beneficiaries within the four (4) value chains identified and that more is urgently needed to enable MSMEs to take advantage of the numerous preferential market opportunities available to them. 

In the end, both parties agreed to continuous engagement to channel necessary support to private sector actors in Sierra Leone and provide them with access to trade supporting institutions around the globe.

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SLAJ Prexy Urges Media Owners to Comply with NASSIT & NRA Regulations

By Ishmail Saidu Kanu

The President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, has urged media owners to comply with the regulations of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) and National Revenue Authority (NRA).

He made this call during his speech at SLAJ’s Triennial General Meeting in Makeni on the theme: “Towards an Economically Viable and Independent Media”.

“How do we ensure the welfare of our reporters? This is an age-old problem of the media industry in this country”, he said, adding that When media houses become economically viable entities, it should naturally reflect in the welfare of reporters or journalists. “That is why we are urging all media owners to adopt new and innovative approaches to their operations.

“We also urge us all to be compliant with NASSIT and NRA regulations, and for the IMC to be robust in ensuring compliance.

“In the meantime, we are also working with the Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU), probably the largest affiliate body of SLAJ and the most affected by what we have repeatedly described as poverty of the media, in their engagement with the Ministry of Labour to acquire a bargaining certificate that will help to address their welfare situation,” he remarked.

On the significance of his call, President Nasralla said the welfare of journalists is so close to the heart of his administration that in the ongoing AGM, they want to begin discussion on financial inclusion of journalists. “We have invited Mr. Solomon Mwongyere, General Manager ILCUF Ltd to talk to our members about managing personal finances using the credit union model where journalists will be encouraged to own, use, control and benefit from credit unions. Journalists can save and take credit at low interest rates”, the President noted.

Speaking on self-regulation, Mr. Nasralla said public interest journalism depends on economic viability, independence and professionalism of the media, calling on all journalists to take that route now.

“To support this path, the Disciplinary Committee (DC) is now very active in promoting adherence to the SLAJ Code of Ethics. Under the NED project to promote professionalism in the media sector in Sierra Leone, the DC is now supported to do its work with the help of District Media Monitors across the country. The DC recently embarked on provincial trips to appraise the work of the monitors and to hear cases of professional misconduct and threats against the work of the media. They are expected to submit a report to the general body during this conference.

“On Friday night, we will continue with our Annual National Media Awards which also seeks to recognize excellence and promote professionalism in the media sector,” he explained.

He ended by thanking Government for fulfilling its promise in giving SLAJ One Billion Leones as subvention for 2021 and 2022.

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