The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance have climaxed the disbursement of the Safety Net Support scheme to employees in the tourism and hospitality sectors in the four regions in Sierra Leone including Kenema, Bo, Makeni and Port Loko.
The beneficiaries of the Safety Net Support launched by President Julius Maada Bio have hailed the New Direction government for the timely intervention to support tourism workers amidst the covid-19 pandemic in the country and globally. Former Minister of Youth Affairs under Ex-President Koroma’s administration, Hon. Alimamy A. Kamara in the launching of the program at Makeni, praised the payment team for prudency and accountability in the process.
He commended the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt for being proactive in monitoring the process which according to him, has resulted in a seamless and transparent payment of funds. “It is indeed commendable that no one has had cause to accuse any official of being questionable during the disbursement process”.
The former Miinister extended thanks and appreciation to the Government through the Ministries of Tourism and Finance for the good initiative. Resident Minister, Northwest Region in Port Loko Township, Haja Isata Abdulai Kamara reiterated to the beneficiaries that history had been made as such entitlements have never been recorded in the country; not even during or after the Ebola outbreak that left many Sierra Leoneans out of jobs and the economy crippled.
She encouraged the recipients to appreciate the efforts of the President Bio led Government to salvage the situation at such a trying period. The Resident Minister further encouraged the beneficiaries to utilize the payment package from government judiciously as it is undeterminable as to when the current pandemic would come to an end in the country.
Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt during her tour in all regions, pointed out the strides her leadership has made in the tourism sector including the increase in tourist arrivals and contributions to the GDP growth in the country. She spoke of the registered commitment of President Bio in supporting the tourism sector, the ministry of finance and other MDAs through the National Development Integrated Strategy incorporated by government.
The Minister disclosed that the ongoing disbursement of Le1.8M pay package to each verified and registered affected employee in the tourism and hospitality sectors has targeted 2,363 beneficiaries for thesafety net support scheme amounting to Le4,883, 840, 000,000. She said that the safety net support covers three months basic salary to affected workers. Dallah Kamara, staff of Buya Hotel, Makeni expressed thanks and appreciation to the government, stressing that she was not expecting such a package.
She went further to say that the hospitality industry is one of the insdutries most affected by Covid-19 as a number of establishments w ere forced to shut down due to little or no patronage. Betty Quee, staff at Kabba Burger Restaurant, Lungi expressed appreciation to the government, saying that the safety net support was very timely as most of the workers in the sector could barely make ends meet.
Director of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism, Mohamed Jalloh revealed that the three months government minimum wage means a lot to the hospitality workers and also thanked government and partners such as NCRA, Anti-Corruption Commission, Ministry of Finance, Auditors, National Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs for coordinating such a laudable move.