State Enterprises Need Competent Heads; Not Political Appointees

Dr. Steve Manteaw -Member of Public Interest and Accountability Committee

Ghana Extractive Industries and Transparency’s representative on the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) Dr Steve Manteaw is in support of the removal of Political Appointees heading State owned Enterprises and yet against the replacement of same, with another set of Political Appointees by a government in power.

In his view, the practice is out-moded and very bad for the country’s development; but has unfortunately been accepted by many Ghanaians as normal, just because it has been the “norm” for years.

According to him, the practice has denied Ghana the opportunity of getting the very best and competent personalities in the various sectors of the economy, to head their respective sectors, and that could partly be the reason why many State owned Enterprises are inefficient. “They don’t get the brightest and best in their sectors to take up the leadership positions in these State owned Enterprises.” Dr. Manteaw noted.

Dr. Manteaw said this in an exclusive interview with the Daily Guide in Koforidua in the Eastern Region, after a PIAC-Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists Workshop to interrogate the 2016 Semi Annual Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) Report. His statement was an answer to a question about how State owned Enterprises can be more efficient in playing their roles towards the speedy development of Ghana.

“In my view, we should appoint people to these positions through a competitive process; possibily supervised by the Public Services Commission. Interested persons will have to bring their Certificates and C.Vs and also go through a competitive interviewing session. You show your competence, track record and above all, your intergrity, and once you are appointed, you should have a contract.

The contract can either have a fixed term or renewable and should be crafted in a way that makes it difficult for any State owned Enterprise Head to be removed politically, and even if that happens, there should be a substantial compensation for the removal. If there are consequences for removing such a Heads, then governments in power will think twice before taking that decision. That way, we will be able to retain very good materials and ensure that State owned Enterprises function effectively.”

In his view, the excessive power that government has in these institutions is what motivates new governments to remove existing Heads and replace them with their Party loyalists as a reward for their efforts towards the victory or just for being members of the ruling Party.

He suggested the listing of State owned Enterprises, especially the commercial ones on the Stock Exchange to “dilute” government’s share or decision-making powers in these State owned Enterprises, in order the reduce government’s power to replace the Heads at will, especially for political interests.

“The way to achieve that, is to dilute the ownership of these State owned Enterprises, but am not suggesting in any way that, we should off-load government’s interest in these State owned Enterprises to foreign companies, I’d rather that they are retained by Ghanaians. I would prefer that we off-load the majority of government’s interest in these companies on the stock exchange in a way that makes Ghanaians part owners of their own Enterprises and give them a say in how these Enterprises are managed.”

Dr Manteaw cited the recent case over the position of the C.E.O of GOIL, saying, government does have absolute power to change the C.E.O at will.

-Ebo Bruce-Quansah