Wednesday, October 10, 2012

O’Neill: Radical reforms for SOEs

The National, Wednesday 10th October, 2012

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have not been complying with their statutory obligations so radical reform is needed.
Speaking at the National Research Institute forum on public enterprises at parliament yesterday, he said since Sir Mekere Morauta took government in 1999, and championed the reforms in SOEs, there had been no real progress in the way SOEs had been managed.

O'Neill addresses the forum.-Picture by MALUM NALU

“Therefore, since last year when we took over government, with Sir Mekere still with us as an MP, we have been trying to reveal the opportunities that we’ve missed out over the last nine years,” O’Neill said,
“Looking back, we have not made much progress between 2002 and 2011, so what we need now is radical reforms.
“Many of us know that SOEs are in ICU (intensive care unit), borrowing Sir Mekere’s words. They are in need of life support and need radical surgery.”
O’Neill said when the new government was formed last year; it was trying to bring a level of “sensibility” into those who were managing SOEs.
“We have seen that many of our SOEs are not delivering,” he said.
“Some people are saying that we are not delivering the services they expected from us.
“As a result, the reforms were brought in to try to improve on this. These reforms are continuing.
“The minister (Ben Micah) has had the time to review many of the board and management structures, and some changes will be made over the next two weeks.
“But we are not there to make changes just for the sake of making changes.
“What we want to do is have some humility in the management.”
O’Neill said PNG could learn from Singapore, where the government owned several major businesses, which were reaping huge dividends for the state and people.
“Look at the case of Singapore,” he said.
“Most of the big, big businesses are owned by the Singapore government, and yet, they are able to provide services that their people require, are able to make money, are able to make profits and continue to pay dividends back to the state and the people as shareholders.”

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