The Executive Chairman of the State Enterprises Commission (SEC), Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, has challenged board members of parastatal institutions and state-owned enterprises not to consider their appointments to boards as a reward.
He said even though some of them may have contributed in a way to helping a government come to power, the main reason for their appointments was the unique skills and knowledge they brought on board to help turn the organisations they served around.
"Don't consider your appointment to a board as a reward for playing a role for a party to come to power. The real reason is that you are unique and have something to contribute. Therefore, your mentality must change from reward to work,” he said at a workshop for board members of three state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Accra yesterday.
About 26 members of the boards of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), the Ghana Shippers’ Council (GSA) and the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) attended the workshop which was meant to expose them to good corporate governance practices and how to be effective board members.
The participants were taken through board effectiveness, board dynamics and financial reporting and analysis under the mantra, “Making SOEs work again.”
Mr Asamoah-Boateng said the seminar was also to promote interaction among the boards of the three institutions which were in the same maritime sub-sector.
The SEC head also urged the board members to obtain copies of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and apprise themselves of its provisions, saying. “It’ll wake you up quickly to your role and responsibilities. It has punitive sanctions that are far-reaching.”
He said the workshop was part of efforts to equip the board members to offer assistance the directors-general and chief executive officers of the SOEs required of them to be successful, and not to micro-manage them.
A management consultant, Dr Ishmael Yamson, said having made it onto the boards, it was time to reflect on how they would play their roles effectively to move their organisations forward.
“In your own mind, what does it take to be a board member; how will you wish to be remembered as an individual and as a group?” he asked rhetorically.
Dr Yamson, whose company, Ishmael Yamson & Associates, facilitated the workshop, said SOEs controlled almost half of the country’s productive assets, therefore “if they do not succeed, the general economy can also not pick up.”
He reminded the board members that they were responsible for the wellbeing of the organisation, as well as its corporate governance structure which they must commit to in formulating strategies to move the business forward, instead of sitting aloof and hoping for things to be better.
“Hope is not a strategy and it will never be; this is an opportunity to create value with the assets the people have entrusted into your hands,” Dr Yamson, who has served on boards for 40 years, stressed.
Good corporate governance
Touching on the core of good corporate governance, Dr Yamson said it bordered on accountability, transparency, credibility, honesty and responsibility, adding that it was also about conscience which should be exercised in the interest of the organisation and the country.
Dr Yamson advised the board members to be ready for political pressures, stand their ground and argue their cases irrespective of who held a different view.
While calling on the chief executives and management to help board members succeed, he also urged them not shield board members when they did not perform, but make recommendations quickly to the appointing authority for replacement.
The board members must also map out clearly-defined processes and systems to forestall malfeasance; they should also be worried when executives force documents on them at the last hour for them to make a decision, he advised.
“Be worried about anybody who rushes documents to you for approval the same day. Don’t do it; give yourself time in taking decisions,” he advised.