By Wezi Tjaronda
Under-performing State-owned enterprises (SOEs) should not exist, President Hifikepunye Pohamba has said.
“Each and every parastatal must carry out its mandate to the fullest.
Otherwise, such an institution will have no reason for existence,” said Pohamba yesterday during his annual consultations with more than 30 heads of SOEs yesterday.
He said although the enterprises were in different categories and had specific mandates including social functions, generating profits and expanding infrastructure, the Government wanted results from all of them.
He added that the Government would not allow under-performance to persist.
He said SOEs should complement each other in their respective mandates as they impact on the national development agenda and should be guided by the 2004 Swapo Party election manifesto, the national development plans and Vision 2030.
During last year’s consultations, Pohamba asked the heads of SOEs to find ways to grow the economy and create jobs by increasing investments in strategic sectors and projects.
Among his concerns last year were high State financial allocations to the enterprises and high recurrent expenditures relating to exposure to unsustainable debt, poor management and remuneration that were not linked to productivity levels of such companies.
As much as the Government is also concerned with broader economic and social objectives, Pohamba said the Government also requires effectiveness and efficiency in the way SOEs are managed.
“Given the developmental role of the State and the role that SOEs need to play in achieving developmental objectives, the Government wants to ensure that the infrastructure and services that we develop and provide are cost-effective and that access is extended to those who need them most,” he said.
He also noted that SOEs are operating in an environment characterised by high unemployment, low skills base, low household incomes, infrastructure backlog and inequitable access to economic opportunities.
Related to this, Namibia’s competitiveness on the global scale has fallen from 79 in 2005 to 88 to date. According to both the International Monetary Fund and the World Economic Forum, Namibia’s identified weaknesses relate to the inadequately educated workforce as the most serious obstacle to increased competitiveness, with intervention being improvement in the education and training system.
In addition, poor work ethics, inefficient government bureaucracy, crime, theft, restrictive labour laws and corruption are challenges that the country should address.
Pohamba reminded the heads of the SOEs that Namibia can only be competitive when its airports, harbours, border posts, tourist facilities and other service outlets provide world-class services.
He said SOEs can perform better and not only become more competitive but also make the national economy more competitive when they are managed well and when they set achievable targets for themselves.
He urged other enterprises to join Agribank, Development Bank of Namibia and National Housing Enterprise’s initiative to promote operational excellence.
The initiative aims at introducing a culture of effective management, prompt service delivery and stronger corporate governance in the three institutions.
Through the same yardstick, Pohamba said, other SOEs can be evaluated in their search for excellence, efficiency and service delivery.
“The people of Namibia should not be made to wait longer than is reasonable for a day, when we can admire all our State-owned enterprises for the good work that they are doing for the nation.”