By Bright Ntramah
President Akufo-Addo has issued a four week ultimatum to Boards of State Owned Enterprises through State Interest and Governace Authority (SIGA), to work with the Auditor General to submit a report on the cause of infractions cited on the Auditor General report and identify persons responsible and make the necessary recommendations as prescribed by law.
This year’s Auditor General report shows increase in infractions which President Akufo-Addo is demanding answers from the Board of the various entities.
“Today, as we dialogue, I want to know from you what you believe are the causes and for us to agree on solutions to address these infractions pointed out by the Auditor-General and the 2020 State Ownership Reports. I want to see a marked improvement in these reports next year. Things must change.”
This he attributed to poor supervision and management and enforcement of relevant financial management laws.
Addressing over one hundred and seventy Board Chairs of State Owned Enterprises at the Banquet Hall of the Jubilee House, President Akufo-Addo asked them to prioritise the payments of dividends to the State.
“I am directing the Director-General of SIGA to work with the Auditor General, who is here with us, to drill down to the causes of the infractions, identify persons responsible and make the necessary recommendations as prescribed by law.
“I am giving them four (4) weeks from now to submit a report to the Chief of Staff.” He warned the Boards to desist from interfering with the day-to-day management of their respective entities.
The President warned of serious sanctions under the SIGA law for mismanagement, negligence, and outright malfeasance. He entreated the various SOEs to refrain from acts that would bring the government into disrepute.
“Board Chairs, we need to ponder over why Specified Entities are not faring well in the same sectors in which their private sector counterparts are thriving and making profits. Chairman Isaac Osei, spokesperson for the chairpersons, I charge you to work with your colleagues to change the narrative. I look forward to a better picture when we meet next year by this time,” President Akufo-Addo stated.
“Today, as we dialogue, I want to know from you what, you believe, are the causes, and for us to agree on solutions to address these infractions pointed out by the Auditor-General and the 2020 State Ownership Reports. I want to see a marked improvement in these reports next year. Things must change. Your hard-earned reputation and honour are at stake if things crumble under your watch, and there are also serious sanctions in the SIGA Act and other laws for mismanagement, negligence and outright malfeasance.”
He, thus, advocated for good corporate governance practices in Specified Entities, stressing that boards must desist from interfering in day-to-day management of their respective Specified Entities, and making unwarranted demands on their management.
“You must remember that, in each of your entities, you have, apart from SIGA, an overall supervisor or monitor, which is the relevant sector Minister, and, ultimately, the Minister for Public Enterprises. If the hierarchy is rigorously maintained, we are guaranteed an enhanced performance and output of your various entities,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo encouraged Specified Entities to trade amongst themselves, increase production and patronage of domestic products and services, adding that “I pledge my full support to SIGA and other oversight institutions to exercise their authority, without any fear or favour.”
The Spokesperson for the Board of the SOEs, Isaac Osei appealed to the government take a look at the legacy debt by some SOEs, which has affected the financial performance of these entities.
The Director General of SIGA, Edward Boateng, said his outfit will work with various Boards to ensure such infractions are reduced.
The Chief Executive of Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, Ben Arthur said the situation where some Board of SOEs pay huge bonuses without payment of dividends must stop.