'Consider privatising SOEs'

An economist has renewed the call for privatising parastatals, while the government favours improving their corporate governance instead.

03 January 2019 | Business

The government has once again been urged to consider the privatisation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in an effort to help the economy back on its feet.

The comment was made by economist Klaus Schade to Namibian Sun recently following finance minister Calle Schlettwein's statement on the state of the economy for 2018.

“Government could consider outsourcing and privatising certain public-sector functions in order to provide new business opportunities for the private sector,” Schade said.

In his address, Schlettwein said the government would be looking to improve corporate governance at SOEs.

“Recovery is predicated on the timely implementation of broad-based measures, including structural policy reforms which are articulated in the medium-term policy statement [and include] implementing effective public enterprises reforms, and managing fiscal risk and implementing a package of structural policy reforms to improve competitiveness, administrative efficiency and the ease of doing business,” he said.

While the government has appealed for closer cooperation with the private sector, public enterprises minister Leon Jooste has ruled out the privatisation of SOEs.

“The term 'privatise' is being used by people very loosely without specifying what is meant by it in this context. In our case we will propose several options to restructure selected public enterprises which may take a number of different forms. Currently, I don't see any candidates among our public enterprises for full privatisation,” he said in an interview with Windhoek Observer.

With privatisation possibly not on the cards for the foreseeable future, Jooste noted that the government would have to appoint strong boards to serve on SOEs.

“We need to appoint better boards and pay attention to the specific requirements of each public enterprise at a given time to determine the most appropriate composition of board members to perform the task,” he said.



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