WALVIS BAY – President Hifikepunye Pohamba has sent a stern warning to those at the helm of state-owned enterprises, saying they should end the tendency of running to the minister of finance for bailouts and to start making money.
Every year government spends billions of dollars to support state-owned enterprises (SOEs), but very few out of the 53 SOEs record annual profits or pay annual dividends to government, the sole shareholder. The Head of State made these remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony of Namport’s container terminal on Friday where he heaped praise on the chief executive officer of the Namibian Port Authority (Namport), Bisey Uirab, for his outstanding performance as CEO of Namport. Pohamba also announced the reappointment of Uirab as CEO of Namport for another four years based on his outstanding performance at the helm of Namport.
He said those serving in parastatals should follow the example set by Uirab, adding that there were no lengthy discussions when the request for Uirab’s re-appointment was made. He congratulated Uirab for steering Namport successfully so far. “I have been watching how you have run the affairs at Namport and I must say, I am very satisfied. When the minister approached me for your re-appointment, there was no discussion. Everybody said yes. However, I want to warn you at the same time not to relax, because I am saying you are doing well. If you relax I can assure you that we will not renew your contract again,” he said.
He then sent a stern warning to non-performing parastatals saying they should pull up their socks. The president said SOEs were established to assist government financially and as profit-making entities and not as entities that rely on government bailouts. “You that are not performing. I know who you are and you know too. All you want is an increment all the time, while you are not performing. We established parastatals in order to assist the government to develop the country, however all they do is complain about their budgets instead of generating their own money. You are lucky that I’m leaving, otherwise I would have dealt with you,” Pohamba warned. He also said he would brief his successor when his term comes to and end early next year not to bail out SOES that fail to make a profit.
By Eveline de Klerk