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Akufo-Addo to CEOs of SOEs: Sit up or be kicked out

The president said this is the time for CEOs of state-owned enterprises to sit up as the country goes through difficult times

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has cautioned chief executive officers (CEOs) and board chairpersons of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to sit up or risk being kicked out of office as the country’s economy faces one of its toughest times in history.

He said the CEOs and board chairpersons of specified entities had for a long time been overlooked when blame was being apportioned for the downturn of Ghana’s economic fortunes, with the blame going to sector ministers and the president.

In his keynote address at the maiden State Interest and Governance Authority (SIGA) annual stakeholder meeting being held at Kwahu Abetifi in the Eastern Region, President Akufo-Addo said those CEOs could no longer stay in the shadow while others received the backlash for the country’s problems.

“The time has come for you to own up to this responsibility and take the front stage in our nation’s development. As captains of our industries, you hold some of the keys to unlocking some of Ghana’s full economic potential.

“Jump-starting our economy begins with you, you should be the major drivers of the economy rather than being a financial burden,” he stated.

The SIGA stakeholder meeting was held on the theme: “Time to reflect and rebuild.”

It brought together over 200 CEOs and chairpersons of boards of specified entities in the country.

Justify call to service

The president said it was unacceptable that specified entities, which together controlled half of the country’s assets, contributed less than five per cent to the national gross domestic product (GDP).

“Your call to this service was based on the belief in your capabilities to help develop our nation and your task is simple, be efficient and profitable where applicable and contribute significantly to the growth of the economy,” he stated.

He said his expectation was that those specified entities should contribute some 30 per cent to GDP.

“I entreat you all to reflect deeply on our nation’s current situation, what your contribution has been and what you can do to help turn things around.

“Excuses for non-performance will no longer be tolerated….. Steer the ship as an able captain or be kicked out,” he cautioned.

Leveraging AfCFTA

President Akufo-Addo also urged the specified entities to leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to develop intra-African trade opportunities.

That, he said, would help increase the country’s exports as well as ensure food security.

“Our nation is facing one of the toughest times in its history and the challenge before us is daunting but surmountable. We can only prevail when we increase revenue mobilisation and rationalise our expenditures.

“You have the responsibility to steer your individual entities towards economic development by encouraging innovation and growth. We have to sail together or sink together and I have no doubt about your expertise and commitment,” he stated.

We are not in normal times

The President noted that although the world was undergoing the fourth industrial revolution, the country was unfortunately lagging in this regard.

He said if the economy would be transformed, the specified entities must rise up to the task and be productive enough to support the economy and compete at the global level.

He pointed out that those entities had historically been characterised with fragmented and uncoordinated oversight, lack of clearly defined ownership framework, poor governance practices and lack of transparency and financial accountability.

He said SIGA was therefore established to address those challenges, with a mandate to oversee and administer the state’s interest in specified entities.

President Akufo-Addo said he had taken note of consistent improvements recorded in the performance contracting system which had seen an increase in participating entities from 47 in 2019 to 63 in 2022.

That, he said, had improved profitability, evidenced by the stories of Tema Development Company and the State Housing Company.

He said entities such as Ghana Grid Company Limited and the Volta River Authority had also seen significant reduction in losses, translating into significant turnarounds.

He noted that even though SIGA had done a good job in streamlining the sector, its biggest challenge was non-compliance, especially with the financial reporting timelines.

“Entities are required to submit management accounts by 28 February to allow the Auditor-General submit audited accounts to Parliament by 30 April. This is a requirement of the law and must always be complied with,” he stated.

He also charged chairpersons of boards and CEOs to collaborate with their respective internal auditors in the preparation of the management of accounts to reduce the incidence of infractions in the 2022 Auditor- General’s report.

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