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Business News of Monday, 18 February 2008

Source: GNA

SEC gives final warning to SOEs

Accra, Feb. 18, GNA - The State Enterprises Commission (SEC) on Monday gave its final warning to State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to submit audited accounts before the end April this year or face sanctions.

Mr Frank Ocran, Executive Chairman of the SEC, who gave the warning said: "The Commission has the mandate and therefore would not hesitate to recommend sanctions to government about any company or institution that would fail do so."

He said such recommendation could take the form of removal of directors/managers and/or some management staff of companies. Speaking at the 2008 Performance Contract Signing ceremony between the SOEs and government, Mr Ocran said: "As of today only 23 SOEs have their accounts audited for 2005 and 10 SOEs have theirs audited for 2006.

"This is certainly not good corporate governance practice and should be curtailed." He said at present, the SEC was waiting for audited accounts to enable it to complete its evaluation and selection of award winners for 2006 and 2007 operational years. Mr Ocran said: "Each year you're given billions of cedis and for you to sit down and not account for it is a very serious matter, which should not be toyed with."

He said even though the SOE Awards Ceremony was revived last year, the event had delayed because most SOEs had failed to audit their financial statements in time.

Mr Ocran commended seven SOEs namely, Ghana News Agency, Irrigation Development Authority, Electricity Company of Ghana, GIHOC Distilleries, Volta River Authority, Ghana Highway Authority and ICOUR Limited for submitting requisite documents to the Commission in time as well as going through negotiation without any rescheduling. Board of Directors and Managers of 29 SOEs signed the performance contract with their respective sector Ministers and Government of Ghana represented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning. Mr Ocran said the efforts of SOEs should extend beyond the signing of the documents to exceeding the targets contained in them or at worse meet them as negotiated.

"If we are able to do this, which we at SEC have confidence in you that you can do, then, it would contribute greatly to enhancing the image of the SOE sector," he said.

Mr Ocran gave the assurance that the Commission would continue to promote good corporate governance practices in public enterprises through, among other things, organization of workshops and interactions. The organisation of Annual General Meetings (AGMs) by SOEs, he said, would soon become one of the yardsticks for which directors and managers would be asked to continue their service. He said the Commission would intensify its effort at getting SOEs to embrace the accountability and transparency that the holding of AGMs promoted.

Mr Ocran said the SEC would give special assistance to SOEs to enable them to hold AGMs before the end of July each year.