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Parliament passes State Interests and Governance Authority Bill

PARLIAMENT has passed the State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA) Bill, 2019 into an Act. 

The Authority would oversee and administer the state’s interests in State-owned Enterprises (SoE), joint venture companies and other entities in which the State has an interest. 

The SIGA Act is also to ensure that SoEs adhered to good corporate practices to promote growth of industry and commerce. 

Introduced to the House during the last meeting, the Bill was taken through the third reading in Parliament yesterday after it had gone through the first reading and consideration stages during the last meeting.  

The motion for the passage of the Bill was moved by Planning Minister and Member of Parliament for Wenchi, Professor George Gyan-Baffour and was seconded by the Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation and Member for Tafo, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei. 

The need for the Act, according to the Finance Committee’s report on the SIGA presented to the House on April 2, 2019 is to reform the governance structure of all state-owned enterprises. 

“This is because none of the interventions of government to help streamline the operations and activities of the State entities have had the intended impact. 

“As a result, it has resolved to adopt the single entity model to help harmonise guidelines and policies to oversee and administer entities which the State has interest in,” the report, signed by the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, read.

Many of the SoEs, the report noted, had consistently underperformed regarding their objectives while others continue to incur losses prompting an assessment of the corporate governance framework of the SoE sector from 2013 and 2015. 

The assessment which focused on 39 wholly-owned SoEs revealed an aggregate loss of approximately GH¢15 million as at the end of the 2012 financial year. 

Per the report, the Authority would enhance co-ordination in the management of state interests and ensure a clear line of accountability from SoEs and other interests. 

“It is expected that this would boost performance and enhance the profitability of the entities…..and ultimately lead to increased returns to the State in the form of dividends and surpluses,” the report indicated. 

According to the report, after the reorganisation of the entities, “any staff found to be misplaced would be absorbed into another public service organisation where his or her expertise would be most needed” to address any job losses. 

On debts owed the SoEs, the report said the State Enterprises Commission was in the process of compiling an up-to-date debt position of the SoEs adding that the Authority would be mandated to report on the financial status of SoEs including their debt portfolios annually. 

The initial cost of setting up the Authority, the Finance Committee report said was estimated at GH¢15,151,076 and includes compensations of employees, goods and services as well as capital expenditure. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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