Jooste quells SOE resistance talk

The Ministry of Public Enterprises has denied talk that it is facing resistance from various line ministers, boards of directors and executives, as it pushes ahead to move at least 21 commercial State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) under its wings.
The 21 public entities are expected to be moved from their current line ministries to the Ministry of Public Enterprises (MPE), following the adoption of the Hybrid Governance Model, which will become effective when the proposed amendments to the Public Enterprises Governance Act are passed in parliament.
Speculation has been rife that line ministers are pushing to make appointments to boards, whose terms have expired or are about to expire, before the amendments are passed.
Just recently, Public Enterprises Minister Leon Jooste and the Minister of Works and Transport, Alpheus !Naruseb, publicly differed on the appointment of a new Namibia Airports Company (NAC) board.
!Naruseb was pushing for the former NAC board to be given a new mandate, but Jooste felt that the board, led by Ndeuhala Ndaendelao Lewis, had been tainted by allegations of corruption in the awarding of tenders at the State-owned entity.
Although he admitted that any reforms will always be accompanied by some level of resistance, Jooste said he has not seen the resistance from line ministers.
“I do not believe that this is the case because I am confident of the shared determination to improve the performance of these vital entities,” the minister said.
“All ministers have their individual mandates and responsibilities and corporately, we are mutually responsible to implement the objectives of the government and to support and complement one another to achieve the goals of the collective.
“The MPE is a dynamic ministry introducing major reforms within a relatively short period; such reforms will always be accompanied by some level of resistance which is to be expected.
“The important thing is to manage this scenario and to convince the various stakeholders that the reforms are in the best interest of the PEs and therefore the country.”
Jooste further said that the boards of the commercial PEs will be appointed by the MPE in consultation with Cabinet while boards of the non-commercial PEs will be appointed by the portfolio ministries as usual in consultation with Cabinet.
“In the interim period (while we await the amendments), the MPE will be working closely with the portfolio ministries to select the board members for commercial PEs,” he said.
The minister said that his ministry is equipped with the appropriate skills to be a professional and responsible shareholder representative on behalf of government.
He said the new hybrid governance model addresses various flaws which have been evident under the former dual-governance model.
Under the new dispensation, all commercial PEs will now receive the same level of shareholder interaction with emphasis on performance management and alignment to the primary objectives of GRN.
“The MPE will have all the functions associated with the roles and responsibilities of the shareholder, but we will be working very closely with portfolio ministries to ensure the alignment of the PEs to the strategic objectives of the portfolio (sector) ministries.
“The Act makes provision for the ministry to issue the remuneration guidelines for all public entities and this will continue. We are about to finalise the new guidelines, before tabling them to Cabinet.
“The new guidelines will be a major departure from the previous ones, in that remuneration will be incentivised in future, with a fair basic salary complemented by a performance bonus.
“If key performance indicators are achieved, these will be captured in performance agreements to be negotiated,” Jooste said.
He added that the portfolio ministries will be responsible for the sectoral policies and the regulation of the various sectors which is further incentive for a close relationship.