Sierra Leone’s President, Ernest Bai Koroma, yesterday lectured newly appointed Chairpersons, Directors and Members of various state enterprises in Sierra Leone on the important issue of the role of the National Commission of Privatization to public enterprises.
He spoke at a Seminar organized by NCP for Directors of Public Enterprises, at the Bank Complex. Sharing his thought on the subject of corporate governance as it relates to the NCP Act 2002, President Koroma said, all public enterprises under the NCP have been marked for reforms and private sector intervention.
President Koroma said, enterprises like the NPA, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank among others are not only important in their own right but also have crucial roles in the transformation and development of the country.
He said, all public enterprises were created to enhance the growth “of their business to increase employment and to make profit which in turn will enhance the share value and asset base of the enterprise”
Profitable enterprises, the president said, are in a position to pay tax to government and dividend to the shareholders and as well make positive contribution to the development of the country, “rather than becoming a burden to the taxpayer”. He called on all to do all they can to address the downward trend in the performance of many of the state enterprises under your respective oversight responsibilities”
According to the NCP Act 2002, the president said the NCP is to serve as a policy and decision making body with regard to the reform of public enterprises and that, it also provides for government ministers to retain responsibility for policy reform but require them [Ministers] to present any intended change to the sector policies which may affect reform of any of the public enterprises to the commission for consideration.
President Koroma further spoke on the responsibilities of the NCP, which among others include, for the privatization and reform of public enterprises and the amendment of certain laws regarding the management of public enterprises. The Boards, Management Auditors and shareholders of state enterprises, the President said are equally important and have distinct responsibilities.
President Koroma appealed to the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce and the Institute of Directors for a code of conduct for best practices and behaviours.
Speaking further, President Koroma said, transparency and accountability have become indispensable ingredients in corporate governance and are mainly the responsibilities of auditors, both internal and external.
Earlier, the NCP chairman Abu Bangura stated that, good corporate governance ensures that “we adopt best practices in the management of public enterprises” Bangura disclosed that, he has realized that, operational and privatization matters of some public enterprises scheduled for privatization are being handled by some ministries or government department, contrary to the provisions of the NCP Act 2002.
Also the NCP boss said, in the interest of the rule of law and good corporate governance, all government ministries and public enterprises must be guided by the NCP Act and “desist from being involved in operational and privatization matters of public enterprises”
He reminded directors of public enterprises that, they will not be pardoned from failure of their responsibilities under the Companies Act or under any other source of authority, irrespective of whether or not their powers have been taken over. He therefore called on managements to be guided by the objectives of the enterprises thereby manage and hold on to the internal regulations and procedures, among others.
Ibi May-Parker, head of the Institution of Directors, in his capacity as chairman for the occasion told all those present that the future of the country depends on parastatals and institutions and asked them to follow the policies and do things in accordance with the people’s expectations.
He called on Board members and Directors to ensure they inform the NCP of any problem they may encounter in their work. Statements were also made by the Finance Minister, David Carew who revealed that, the performance of public enterprises, still remained appalling and that efficiency is lacking, and production levels are still very low.