Public enterprises law comes into force

23 May 2019 16:30pm
By Edward Mumbuu Jnr
WINDHOEK, 23 MAY (NAMPA) – Public enterprises reform in Namibia has been a matter of policy discussions and after years of rigorous debate and resistance from certain quarters, the Public Enterprise Act of 2019 has finally come into force.
This is captured in a Government Gazette dated 17 May 2019.
Public Enterprises Minister, Leon Jooste, during an exclusive interview with Nampa on Thursday confirmed the new law and described the latest development as a milestone that will pave the way for the implementation of the Hybrid Governance Model as approved by Cabinet in 2016.
The first step is to establish the most appropriate governance or ownership infrastructure and Jooste said the ministry will deploy a systematic approach in its quest to reform State-owned enterprises (SOEs).
“The most important thing now is to ensure that we equip ourselves with appropriate skills to become the professional, active shareholder responsible for steering the SOE reforms,” an upbeat Jooste said.
Consequent to the passing of the new law, preliminary information obtained from officials within the ministry indicates that some potentially profit-making SOEs will now fall under Jooste’s ministry.
They include debt-ridden national carrier Air Namibia, which formerly fell under the Ministry of Works and Transport.
This ministry is further set to lose its oversight role over the Namibia Airports Company, Namibia Ports Authority, Roads Authority, cash-strapped Roads Contractor Company and TransNamib, details show.
Other SOEs also set to report to Jooste, although pending approval, include the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco), Epangelo Mining Company and the Namibia Institute of Pathology.
Jooste, however, downplayed sentiments that he is now the “most powerful Cabinet minister”.
“I have heard this several times and I find it ludicrous to say the least. The perceived power attached to this new regime is not something I aspire to as I believe in the collective influence and power of the Cabinet chaired by the president to lead this country. I am currently occupying this particular office but by the time that this article appears, I may serve in a different portfolio, or not at all,” he said.
All in all, the new law seeks to provide corporate governance and accountability at the SOEs.
There are two types of SOEs, according to the new law; commercial public enterprise and non-commercial public enterprise, with the first responsible for almost 70 per cent of the total asset value of SOEs.
“It is therefore obvious that the primary focus should be on this group. Having said that, we are by no means ignoring the non-commercial public enterprises and they will be required to adhere to the same corporate governance principles, guidelines and directives,” Jooste stated.