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Parliament passes law to safeguard state’s interest in SOEs

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru

Parliament has passed the State Interests and Governance Authority Bill, 2019, into law to allow for the establishment of an Authority to oversee the state's interests in State-owned Enterprises (SoEs), joint venture companies and other entities.

The law is also to ensure that SoEs adhere to good corporate practices to promote growth of industry and commerce.

The Minister of Planning, Professor George Gyan Baffour, moved the motion for the third reading of the bill on behalf of the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, and was supported by the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei.

Committee's report

According to the report of the Finance Committee of Parliament signed by the Chairman of the Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, the new law would reform the governance structure of all entities.

"This is because none of the interventions of government to help streamline the operations and activities of the state entities have had the intended impact.

"As a result, we have resolved to adopt the single entity model to help harmonise guidelines and policies to oversee and administer entities in which the State has interest," he said.

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According to the report, many SoEs have consistently underperformed in relation to their objectives, while others continued to incur losses, prompting an assessment of the corporate governance framework of the SoE sector from 2013 and 2015.

It said the assessment, which focused on 39 wholly-owned SoEs, revealed an aggregate loss of approximately GH¢15 million as of the end of the 2012 financial year.

Coordination

According to the report, the Authority would enhance coordination in the management of state interests and ensure a clear line of accountability from SoEs and other interests.

"It is expected that this will boost performance and enhance the profitability of the entities and ultimately lead to increased returns to the state in the form of dividends and surpluses," it said.

The report said after the reorganisation of the entities, any staff found to be misplaced would be absorbed into another public service organisation where his or her expertise would be most needed to address any job losses.

On debts owed the SoEs, the report said the State Enterprises Commission was in the process of compiling an up-to-date debt position of the SoEs, adding that the Authority would be mandated to report on the financial status of SoEs including their debt portfolios annually.

The initial cost of setting up the Authority, the report said, was estimated at GH¢15,151,076 which included compensations of employees, use of goods and services as well as capital expenditure.