200 CEOs, board chairs brainstorm on economy
Chief executive officers (CEOs) and board chairs of specified entities (SEs), including state-owned enterprises (SOEs), have gathered at Kwahu Abetifi in the Eastern Region to deliberate on how they can support the government’s efforts to jump-start the economy.
The stakeholder meeting, organised by the State Interest and Governance Authority (SIGA), has brought together over 200 CEOs and board chairs.Subscribe
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, in a speech read on his behalf by a Deputy Minister of Finance, Abena Osei Asare, bemoaned the low level of dividends from SOEs over the last years.
He said dividend receipts from SOEs had not only been historically very low, in comparison to joint ventures and mining companies; even more worrying was the fact that the number of SOEs paying dividends and the quantum they paid had declined sharply in recent years.
The Finance Minister said records from the ministry indicated that only two SOEs, namely: Ghana Re and the Tema Development Company (TDC), paid dividends in 2022.
He said the 2020 State Ownership Report also indicated that while the revenue of SOEs increased by 19.8 per cent from GH¢37.9 million in 2019 to GH¢45.2 million in 2020, the sector reported losses of over GH¢2 billion, continuing the trend of unprofitability over the years.
“Out of the 47 SOEs covered in the report, only 24, that is, 51 per cent, reported net profits,” he said.
Re engineering growth
Mr Ofori-Atta said the stakeholder meeting could not have happened at a better time when the economy was faced with unprecedented headwinds that required collective energies and focus to move it from its current position to a port of sustainably high growth.
“As CEOs of SOEs, the importance of our role in engineering a complete turn-around in our economic fortunes cannot be overemphasised and this gathering presents the perfect opportunity to reflect and rethink our strategies for our economic renaissance,” he said.
Help in rebuilding economy
In his opening remarks, the Director-General of SIGA, Edward Boateng, issued a rallying call to all the CEOs to reflect on how they could help in rebuilding the economy.
He said when that was successfully done, the government would break the eight year cycle of change of governments, and by that they would all stand the chance of retaining their jobs.
“We all sometimes talk as if the problem is somebody’s problem and not ours, but it is our problem because if the government goes out of power, most of us, if not all, will not retain our positions.
“So it is in our collective interest to reflect on how we can rebuild the economy, so that, hopefully, we can break the eight and retain our jobs or get new ones,” he said.
He emphasised that the country was not in normal times and urged the CEOs to play their part in jump-starting the economy.
“We in this room control a substantial portion of the Ghanaian economy, so let’s be positive that we can solve the problems in the economy,” he said.
The Minister of Public Enterprises, Joseph Cudjoe, for his part, said the responsibility fell on the CEOs to navigate their respective enterprises onto the path of economic prosperity.
He said that could be done by promoting innovative and growth strategies and operating sustainably, in compliance with good corporate governance structures.
“The President has high expectations of all us, as he expects SEs to contribute at least 30 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP),” Mr Cudjoe said.
He said although that might look ambitious, it was possible if CEOs were disciplined, efficient and diligent in the execution of their respective roles.
The minister pointed out that a State Ownership Policy was currently being discussed at the final stages for Cabinet approval.
When approved, he said, it was expected to harmonise the Public Financial Management Act with the SIGA Act by addressing all ambiguities and inconsistencies identified in both legal documents.
“It will ensure policy coherence. The policy, when approved, will ultimately solve the long-standing issue of fragmented policy initiatives affecting the sector,” he noted.
Mr Cudjoe said the government was also developing a Code of Corporate Governance policy which was at an advanced stage.
“The SIGA Board has approved it and it will soon be forwarded to the Cabinet for approval. Upon completion and approval, it will equip our SEs with the requisite knowledge of good corporate practices which will lead to the effective management of these entities,” he said.