• November 18th, 2018
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Change is coming, insists Jooste

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Front Page News

Toivo Ndjebela WINDHOEK – Leon Jooste – the man charged with the rocky task of bringing sanity into the public enterprises space – is not losing sleep over the snail-paced progress on his vision for such entities. The public enterprises minister, while not drawing gratification from delays so far, is as sure as the dawn that 2018 is the breakthrough year for his vision, described as a game changer by its devoted believers and a fantasy by critics. Yet for Jooste, plucked from the political wilderness in 2015 when President Hage Geingob slammed the heavy duty of cleaning up public enterprises on his shoulders, the dawn for change is looming large. With public enterprises’ collective debt currently standing at a mountainous N$43 billion, Jooste is tasked to help arrest this escalation by cleaning up the troubled sector. Nearly three years after weathering the wave of resistance – even by his conservative peers in Cabinet and lieutenants in public enterprises – Jooste, once a deputy minister of tourism, feels he finally got his way. Even after Cabinet had approved his visionary Hybrid Governance Model for public enterprises – in 2016 already – he is only expected to have the consolidated 2018 Public Enterprises Bill to the National Assembly this year. Having passed the first hurdle of Cabinet approval two years ago, the 49-year-old minister from Grootfontein was almost sure the rest of the processes would be as smooth as Tennessee whiskey. This, as he told a congregation of CEOs of public enterprises at Swakopmund yesterday, was not to be. “Unfortunately, the legislative instrument made a bit of a journey, from an amendment, to a proposed repeal, back to the amendment approach and ultimately a consolidated amendment approach,” he told CEOs at the annual general meeting of the SOE Forum being held at the coastal resort town. But with a beaming face, he was quick to state: “With confidence I can now say that the tabling of the consolidated amendment in the form of the 2018 Public Enterprises Bill is imminent.” The legislative piece will – if implemented to the letter and with firm devotion – spring the Hybrid Governance Model to life. “There is a strong political will but as we all know, embracing transformation is not without challenges.” At the centre of the model is a clear as daylight demarcation separating commercial public enterprises from the lot of non-commercial ones. He cited, as a tip of an iceberg, NamPower, Namport and MTC as commercial entities destined for his ministry, while the army of non-commercial public enterprises such as New Era Publication Corporation, NTA, UNAM, NUST and AMTA will remain firmly in their trenches – their current line ministries. “In the new governance model for public enterprises, the extra budgetary funds will report to the Ministry of Finance, also with good governance support from us,” he told those in attendance. The new regime of governance would put guessing and ambiguity to an end, insofar as the shareholder’s expectation from both groups of entities is concerned. NamPower, for example, would not only be expected to light up the country and power industries with energy, but generate a sustainable profit and pay dividends to the shareholder. For others in the non-commercial space, such as New Era Publication Corporation, government would be expected to wholly or partly sustain them via either a subsidy or on cost-recovery basis. “[They are] not expected to pay dividends to the shareholder,” Jooste clarified. There is another group, christened extra budgetary funds (EBFs), that are also non-commercial and non-profit such as MVA Fund, Environmental Investment Fund and the War Veterans Trust Fund. These are controlled and financed by government to carry out government policies, funded by government subsidies, taxes, tax levies or other public charges, may have their own governance structures and, often, a legal status that is independent of government ministries and departments. “In the allocation of existing public enterprises in the three buckets: commercial, non-commercial or EBF, we may still encounter a few challenges but broadly these set criteria should do away with much of the confusion about the status and related governance and reporting lines for our public enterprises.” “We intend to be an active shareholder towards the commercial public enterprises, and start the transformation process with the commercial public enterprises, while encouraging the non-commercial public enterprises and EBFs to undertake cost efficiency audits, in addition to seeking full compliance in terms of the Public Enterprises Act,” he said.Caption
New Era Reporter
2018-06-08 09:21:11 5 months ago

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