The country’s Auditor General Timothy Matsebula says that there has been tremendous improvement in the transparency and compliance of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in the country.
The AG disclosed this during the inaugural Roundtable Discussion hosted by the Eswatini Public Enterprises Association (ESPEA) held at the Eswatini Revenue Service Auditorium, themed ‘Governance & the Effectiveness of Public Enterprises.’
Also part of the Roundtable Discussion and guest speaker was South African, Dr. Adrian Saville, a Professor of Economics, Finance, and Strategy at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) Business School.
When making his presentation the AG noted that when he assumed office in 2018 a number of public enterprises were not fully compliant, as evidenced by them not submitting their books.
“When I took over this position a number of public enterprises were not fully compliant, in terms of submitting their books. It is, however, pleasing that during my tenure we have witnessed a significant improvement. Certain SOEs had their books not audited for years, while parastatals that were entrusted with an economic benefit for the government were not remitting dividends,” the AG noted.
He said the improvement in compliance was brought about by a strong collaboration between his Office and public enterprises.
“Stakeholder engagement and communication is a key part of Corporate Governance. Our gathering here today is an example of such, as we are here to engage with each other. As an office, we have noted that even if parastatals have challenges or delays they normally communicate with us, which is highly commendable.”
Dr. Adrian Saville presented on ‘The Importance of Public Enterprises’ and made it succinctly clear that economic growth cannot be fully attained if SOEs are not performing to their optimal level. The celebrated Professor pointed out that the economy is foundational to the success of businesses and the economy.
“The role of the public sector is so important for the vibrancy of any country and economy. I cannot over-emphasize its importance enough. I urge all leaders of SOEs to ensure that they safeguard the public institutions they lead, as they are essential to the success of any economy,” Dr. Saville noted.
The Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg who was a guest speaker at the event stated that one of the reasons they are reducing the number of SOEs in the country is to ensure that there is increased efficiency in the public sector.
“You will be well aware by now that in an effort to increase the efficiency of public enterprises, as a government, we have commissioned a consolidation exercise of state-owned enterprises which will result in a reduction of the total number from 49 to around 31 public enterprises. By the way, it is not about numbers but about effectiveness and efficiency of all public enterprises put together as a whole.”
The Minister added,” Though at preliminary stages, the process is underway and we look forward to its completion. I am, however, quite pleased to note that in the country we do have a good number of very efficient and effective public enterprises and are very proud of them as a government. We, therefore, encourage you to learn from each other in order to maximize service delivery.”
ESPEA Chairperson, Dumisani Msibi who is also the Group Managing Director of FINCORP concurred with the AG and Professor Saville on the importance of public enterprises for the country’s economic growth.
“Public Enterprises have a significant impact on the nation’s economic growth, job creation, and the delivery of essential public services. It is, therefore, important that we gather here today to explore how we can enhance the effectiveness of these enterprises to better carry out our respective mandates and in the process drive sustainable socioeconomic development,” Misibi reiterated.