He said it was not fair for the government to provide support packages for only the private sector and leave SOEs to face challenges while fending for themselves while the government expected its dividends.
Interacting with the management of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) in Accra last Wednesday, Mr Asamoah-Boateng said: “If, as a nation, we have come up with a package for the private sector, we must also do something for the SOEs to enable them to become more effective in their operations.”
According to him, one of his major goals was to ensure that SOEs received the needed assistance and support to enable them to become more productive and set the standard for the private sector to emulate.
“It is time for SOEs to be positioned well to drive the economy of Ghana,” he added.
For that reason, Mr Asamoah Boateng suggested the cleaning of the balance sheets of all SOEs so that any stimulus packages would help them to begin on a clean sheet.
He made reference to examples in Saudi Arabia and India where the SOEs were used to drive the economy.
The interaction between Mr Asamoah Boateng and the management of the GCGL, led by its Managing Director, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, centred on issues that continued to derail the operations of SOEs such as the state media organisations.
Some of the issues are debt owed state media organisations, the rigid system that makes it extremely difficult for state enterprises to work together and the lack of support for state media organisations.
The discussions created the platform for dialogue on how the SEC could work with SOEs to promote state businesses.
In attendance were the Executive Director of the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (PME) Office, Mr John Kwesi Mensah, and a senior consultant, Mr Benjamin Tetteh Ozor.
The Executive Chairman of SEC and his team were conducted round some of the facilities of the GCGL such as the Newsroom and G-Pak, a subsidiary of the company.
According to Mr Asamoah Boateng, the challenges that hindered SOEs from becoming more productive had nothing to do with leadership but had to do with the unavailability of support programmes for them.
“People think the private sector is more efficient than the public sector, but that is not entirely true. If SOEs receive support from the government, the level of progress in state businesses will overwhelm the nation,” he said.
Touching on productivity, he stressed the need for SOEs to move from “just existing as government businesses and come up with strategies to become profitable”.
“This is where my focus will be geared towards. I will engage SOEs and team up with them to find better ways of ensuring productivity,” he added.
Mr Asamoah Boateng said the SEC would put in place measures to stop any political interference in the management and operations of SOEs, adding that the time had come for SOEs to be given the necessary room to work independently.
“If we have given them a target to reach through the performance contract, we must also give them room to operate, instead of interfering in their operations, “he said.
He commended the management of the GCGL for measures put in place to make the company more vibrant and productive.
Mr Asamoah Boateng said the success of GCGL demonstrated what SOEs could achieve given the necessary support and the free hand to operate.
Multiplicity of authorities
He also bemoaned the multiplicity of reporting lines for the SOEs, saying “looking at the public service structure, your bosses are many: You do a lot of reporting to different authorities, all working for the government”.
Mr Asamoah Boateng said the SEC would not add to the burden of SOEs but work with them to reduce their burden.
He indicated that although the SEC would not over-burden the SOEs, it would not tolerate a situation where some of them did not respect corporate governance, saying “in some organisation it does not exist, even if it exists, it is not working”.
Mr Asamoah Boateng hinted of plans by the World Bank to support the SEC to restructure its operations for better supervision of the SOEs.
Mr Ashigbey, for his part, said in spite of the numerous challenges confronting the company, efforts had been made to sustain its operations.
He mentioned the absence of government support for state-owned media organisations and the debt owed the company among the major challenges confronting the operations of the GCGL.
“There are a lot of state institutions owing the company, and this is affecting our operations. We are using all avenues to collect our money, but we will also need the intervention of the SEC,” he said.
He said the company had plans to expand its operation, but the lack of support from the government and the debt owed the entity had made it extremely difficult for that initiative to succeed.
Mr Ashigbey underscored the need for the government to make it possible for the GCGL to be listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange to enable the company to raise enough resources to undertake expansion projects.
Mr James Dadzie (right), Director, GPAK, showing Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng (2nd right), educational materials printed by his outfit. Looking on is Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey, MD, GCGL. Pictures: EMMANUEL ASAMOAH ADDAI
Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng (3rd right), holding discussions with the management of the GCGL.
Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng (right), exchanging pleasantries with Mr Albert Salia (2nd left), Deputy News Editor, Daily Graphic. Looking on are Mr. Kenneth Ashigbey (left), and Mr Ransford Tetteh, Editor, Daily Graphic.