Government after SOEs, Namah says

National, Normal

The National, Friday 14th of February, 2014

OPPOSITION leader Belden Namah has accused the Government of politicising the affairs of State-owned enterprises and plans to privatise them.
Namah told reporters in Port Moresby on Wednesday that present and past governments must take full responsibility for the legacy of state enterprises because their poor performances were  due to the politicising of boards and senior management positions.
“Incompetent and unqualified person or persons with questionable backgrounds and reputations have continuously been appointed through political affiliations or wantok system,” he said.
“As a result, you have poor and politically compromised boards and management decisions in matters of administration and investment.”
Namah said it was not in the best interest of the country for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to  announce that the Government was planning to sell key government enterprises to private interests under the Private Public Partnership policy.
“The Opposition wishes to warn the Prime Minister not to embark on a fire sale of SOEs under the guise of the misuse or abuse of billions of kina,” he said.
“Some of these businesses are monopolies and can be profitable if better managed.
“We do not believe the answer lies in whole or partial sale of government businesses.
“It simply needs smarter corporate governance and management practices.
“The government must review the present structure and governance with a view to establishing more stringent checks and controls, including the appointment processes of members to boards and senior executive positions.”
Namah said the Opposition believed that O’Neill’s motives were hidden behind the curtain of missing billions.
He suggested that if O’Neill did not want to fix the problems with SOEs, then he  must come up with a clear and credible plan of how these sales were going to be managed.
“The solution is not found in selling but in finding smarter and innovative ways of corporate governance and management.
“Setting up a holding company with a super board, constituted by foreign and local eminent persons to oversee the management and operations of each state entity would be a way forward,” Namah said.