Only two State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and the Ghana Reinsurance Company, have paid dividends to government for 2018 out of the 103 SOEs in which government has equity investments.
In total, government, last year, received GHc139.2 million in dividends from its equity investments in joint ventures with private interests, with mining companies and joint venture companies contributing GHc112 million and GHc18.5 million respectively.
Regrettably, SOEs contribution in 2018, stood at just GHc8.5 million amounting to 6.5 percent of the total accrued last year.
Addressing dignitaries at the 2019 Policy and Governance Forum which officially launched the State Interests & Governance Authority (SIGA), Planning Minister, Prof. George Gyan Baffour, asked SOEs to change this worrying trend.
He noted it was important for SIGA to improve government dividend history and increase dividend payment in order to deepen development.
Instructively however, the 2018 annual state ownership report which should have been issued in June this year, remains uncompleted because most SOEs have not been able to provide their audited accounts.
Though the report has been extended to cover regulatory bodies, few were able to provide their audited financials to the Finance Ministry.
Instructively, only four SOEs, five regulatory bodies, eight Bulk Oil Distribution Companies, and eight mining companies with state equity stakes have been able to meet the target.
Since 2017, State Ownership Reports have been published using largely unaudited accounts – which therefore could be significantly inaccurate – but for 2019, the Finance Ministry is determined to publish the reports using fully audited data of SOEs.
Hence SIGA, Prof Gyan Baffour indicated, is expected to provide a lot of support to the Finance Ministry and work with stakeholders to resolve the ongoing challenges.
The SIGA that now assumes the roles of both the erstwhile State Enterprises Commission (SEC) and the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), is to help ensure the efficiency and financial viability of SOEs and help them deliver on their mandate. All the assets and liabilities of the defunct SEC and the DIC have been transferred to the SIGA.
President Akufo-Addo indicated that the law establishing SIGA, (Act 990), had empowered the body to prosecute board members and corporate executives who break or sidestep corporate governance regulations.
Those who violate the law could face a jail term of not less than 5 years, and up to 10 years, he stated, adding, “This is a strong indication of the extent to which the barometer of corporate governance and executive decision making has been lifted.”
The SIGA would also ensure that the various state owned enterprises, joint venture companies and other state enterprises pay the dividends due the state.
Mr. Terry Darko, former President of the Ghana Employers’ Association chairs the SIGA, while Mr. Stephen Asamoah Boateng, had been appointed the Director General of the Authority.