Then National, Wednesday 12th September, 2012
By MALUM NALU
INDEPENDENT Public Business Corporation managing director Thomas Abe yesterday promised reforms in both IPBC itself and the enterprises it owns.
He told the Papua New Guinea Advantage 2012 investment conference that the reforms focused on providing strong leadership from government by giving IPBC and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) a clear sense of direction, a robust policy and planning framework, and clear implementation guidelines through national executive council (NEC) decisions.
On Monday, at the same conference, new minister for Public Enterprises and State Investments Ben Micah described SOEs as a liability to PNG.
IPBC’s portfolio consists of Air Niugini, bemobile, Motor Vehicle Insurance Ltd (MVIL), National Development Bank (NDB), Eda Ranu, PNG Ports Corporation, PNG Post Ltd, PNG Power Ltd, Telikom PNG Ltd, and Water PNG.
“The minister (Micah) made two very important points that I want to reinforce,” Abe said.
“The first is that it is not business as usual for Papua New Guinea any more.
“Business as usual has been a failure, and it is time to do things differently.
“The second is that there needs to be far greater participation in national-building by the private sector.
“Allow me to be blunt – the state has never had the financial, technical or physical capacity to deliver all the services and infrastructure the nation needs in the time frames required.
“Today, we are even worse off.
“Therefore, IPBC has been engaging much more closely with the private sector during the past 12 months, and we expect to be building on that relationship in the future.”
Abe said the IPBC Act had been amended to improve governance arrangements, increase transparency and accountability and place much greater emphasis on customer service levels and the delivery of affordable and reliable services by public enterprises.
“Since August last year, IPBC has conducted reviews of all public enterprises and has begun assisting them with remedial action,” he said.
“IPBC and public enterprises now have annual plans and budgets for the first time, approved by the IPBC board and by cabinet.
“The annual plans are firmly based on commercial discipline and practices.
“Transparency and accountability have also increased dramatically – the annual plans are now published on the IPBC web site, as is the IPBC Act and the audited accounts.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that this renewed focus on infrastructure development and public enterprise efficiency will bring lasting benefit to the nation and to the private sector’s capacity to operate effectively and profitably.
“I assure you (investors) that we at IPBC are doing everything in our power to change the national and business landscape for the better.
“As the minister said yesterday, I look forward to working with you.”