WINDHOEK – Frustration and disappointment with the financial performance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Namibia may see the establishment of a Ministry of SOEs during the first half of 2015.
This was part of the message by Professor Joseph Diescho, Interim Chairman of the Steering Committee of the SOEs Chief Executive Officer’s Forum during their first-ever annual general meeting (AGM) held in Windhoek yesterday.
Diescho is also the Executive Director of the Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM).
“If a Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises is established it will mean better co-ordination in the SOE sector and will ensure the full potential of these SOEs are harnessed,” said Albertus Aochamub, Director General of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).
Speaking to New Era yesterday, Aochamub noted that SOEs generally face the same issues, such as corporate governance, service delivery and providing a return on investment to the shareholder, which is the State.
“It’s a worthwhile idea but it also means that the State-Owned Enterprises Governance Council must be scrapped,” commented Aochamub.
The NBC boss however pointed out that a clear distinction must be made between profit-driven SOEs and those that serve a social purpose and are not necessarily profit driven.
Also weighing in on the proposed establishment of a new ministry to govern SOEs, the CEO of New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC), Dr Audrin Mathe, noted: “If a ministry of SOEs will improve the current governance of SOEs then it should be a good thing.
“This will mean all SOEs will operate with the same understanding and mean more consistency within all SOEs.”
Addressing the forum’s AGM yesterday, Diescho added that NIPAM is ready to provide training to all SOEs, including their boards of directors.
During an SOEs’ information sharing breakfast meeting at the beginning of October the proposal for the establishment of an SOE CEOs Forum was made to discuss strategic issues facing parastatals.
NIPAM was nominated as the convener of the SOE CEO’s Forum until yesterday’s AGM. This is how Diescho, as the head of NIPAM, became the de facto chairperson of the forum until the election of office-bearers which was scheduled for yesterday.
Government identifies SOEs as appropriate vehicles for job creation, wealth distribution and poverty alleviation in order to propel sustainable economic growth in the country.
SOEs are also considered as an arm of the state to maintain cohesion and to take service closer to citizens.
In this vein government enacted legislation to provide a legal framework for the efficient governance of SOEs, to monitor their performance and restructuring and to establish the SOEs Governance Council with defined powers, duties and functions.
According to the SOEs Governance Council Secretariat, 87 SOEs are registered in Namibia. Of these one is non-existent while eight are subsidiary companies, leaving 78 SOEs operational in the country.
Of the 78, 44 have paid their membership fees for the SOE CEO’s Forum. The annual membership fee of N$7 000 per SOE was also scheduled to be reviewed at yesterday’s AGM.