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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