In August 2019, President Akufo-Addo outdoored the State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA) to replace the then Divestiture Implementation Committee and the State Enterprises Commission.
ne year on, the authority will today, November 10, render an account to the President and Ghanaians, of the work it has done within the period.
SIGA was tasked with the responsibility of overseeing state owned businesses and transforming them into profit making entities. It was also charged with neutralising the role played by the Ministry of Finance in state-owned enterprises and joint venture companies. The authority has an additional mandate to streamline aspects of the operations of the entities it replaced, develop a code of corporate guidelines to promote sound governance for institutional performance and inject in them some private sector practices to make them profitable.
In an interview with the press, the Director-General of the State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA), Mr. Stephen Asamoah-Boateng said although the task has been challenging, the authority can boast of some great strides since it began operations a year ago.
“It has been one year since SIGA was inaugurated and one year on we have achieved some successes and obviously there are some challenges but the successes are very appreciable. We have setup our own structures within a year and we have everything in place to administer our mandate over the state entities”, he said.
He explained that, “externally, we have improved on our performance contract systems and consistently from 2017 up to now, we have increased the number of entities that signed to the contract. In one year we have had a 34% increase from 47 entities to 63 entities that signed in January 2020. We are expecting 99 in January 2021. So you could see from 63 to 99 is a huge jump.
“Beyond that we have supervised the turnaround of some of the businesses examples are GIHOC Distillery, Ghana Publishing, BOST, Ghana Gas and Intercity STC that has recently acquired one hundred busses by borrowing using their own balance sheets.”
According to him, even though the covid-19 pandemic posed a great risk on businesses and its finances, its effect was reduced to minimal because of how SIGA worked with the agencies to ensure that none of the agencies had to lay off workers to be able to cope with the financial burden that came with the pandemic.
“Covid-19 came in with all the scary and uncertainties in our financial systems and there was even the fear that some employees will be laid off to cope with the strain. We worked with the state entities to ensure that they did not lay off any employee and I can say that no employee was laid off”, Mr. Asamoah Boateng said.
The Director-General said the authority is working to monitor the institutions under its wing online instead of the manual way.
“One year down the line, we are looking at the challenges that we want to overcome which is moving from the manual way of monitoring to online monitoring. We have been grateful to have support from L’Agence Francaise de Developpement (The French Development Agency) who have graciously given us a grant of 5million euros for us to do online monitoring. So we have French experts who are coming here to help us modify our performance contract documentations so that we can do online. So we don’t have to wait quarterly to have manual papers upon papers”, he explained.
Mr. Asamoah Boateng believes the implementation of an online monitoring system will yield more profit for state businesses because it will keep the agencies on its feet.
“That will keep all the state entities on their toes. The key thing is supervision and we are here to ensure that we supervise and manage our state entities so that there will be return on investments. The public purse will be spared this bailout and these entities coming for money from the state. We rather want them to make profits and for them to return dividends to the states so that we can undertake the development for the people like schools, roads, hospitals etc”, he said.
The SIGA boss said one way the country can achieve the President’s vision of Ghana Beyond Aid is for all state institutions to function at optimal level and make profit for the state.
“State entities have posted losses upon losses and nobody cared about what they did but under President Akufo-Addo, the state entities are performing and SIGA is here to make sure we don’t go back to the old days where things were run anyhow”, Mr. Asamoah Boateng indicated.