United Nations Economic Commission for Africa-Southern Africa Region Office (Uneca-Saro) director Eunice Kamwendo has urged governments to reform State owned enterprises (SOEs) to avert current economic challenges.
She said this on Tuesday in Lilongwe where she addressed the region’s representatives from governments and private sector.
The sentiments come amid revelations that most SOEs in the region do not function to their full potential.
She said efficient SOEs offer a wide range of opportunities, including being a vehicle of innovation transfer and help governments address prevailing socio-economic challenges.
Said Kamwendo: “As we are all aware, reform processes confront enormous challenges, but also provide significant opportunities. In this regard, reforming SOEs should not be seen as a government responsibility alone, but other stakeholders should also be involved for successful outcomes.
“Reforms provide opportunities to forge partnerships among national and regional stakeholders, including labour organisations, civil society organisations and international development partners.”
She said SOEs reform would enable them to contribute to job creation across different economic sectors.
Kamwendo also bemoaned unemployment statistics in South Africa and around the region, claiming they do not only deepen poverty, but also entrench inequalities and social instability.
Here in Malawi, SOEs are not performing better either.
Last Wednesday, for example, Parliament raised concerns with irregularities in Green Belt Authority’s operations.
According to a report by the Parliamentary Committee on Commission, Statutory Corporations and State Enterprises, the Green Belt Initiative Holdings Limited is operating without a secretariat.
Government chief whip in Parliament Sosten Gwengwe the report recommended swift remedial actions to address the challenges.
He said: “We noted the existence of a company registered as Green Belt Initiative Limited and we do not know what it does while we already have the Green Belt Authority.
“It was agreed that this was an anomaly and should be corrected. And then, there is no secretariat and no accounts. And we recommended that auditors should go there to find out what has been going on.”
At this, Gwengwe moved a motion for the House to adopt the report.
After the report was adopted, Rumphi East legislator Kamlepo Kalua rose on point of order, arguing that although the report has been adopted “there is something serious that happened here yesterday”.
He was referring to a loan the House had authorised for the Green Belt Authority and yet the legislators were claiming it was operating illegally.
Argued Kalua: “Yesterday we authorised a loan for the Green Belt Authority and today, we are adopting a report that it has no secretariat, accounts and so many other anomalies, are we really serious as Parliament?”
In response, Gwengwe, who is also Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, argued that debate time had elapsed and the House should not go back to the business it had concluded.
At this, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Madalitso Kazombo banged the gavel, signifying the matter was closed.