MONROVIA — The Bureau of State Enterprises (BSEs), through its Director General Jamoil Cummings, has officially launched the Profiling of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) operating in the country in an effort to crackdown on financial improprieties, waste and other fraudulent acts within the public sector.
The Bureau was established in 1985 by a decree to ensure that State-Owned Enterprises are supervised.
Following nearly two decades of dormancy, President Weah appointed few persons to steer the affairs of the Bureau in a bid to ensure the actualization of Pillar Four of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) which calls for the development of a governance framework.
Speaking to Reporters in Monrovia on Wednesday, Mr. Cummings disclosed that in the coming days, the profiling of all SOEs in Liberia will be carried out with the relevant questions asked to acquire the necessary information needed for the exercise.
“We are trying to establish a profile system for the SOEs and so we will request the information that are needed to build their profiles. We will be asking them to submit their personnel listing, salaries of regulars and contractors on their payrolls, listing of their assets, including vehicles, equipment, furniture, machineries and buildings”.
He added that the Bureau will also request reports on the 2021/2022 budget, report and balance sheet of the 2021 special budget and resolutions, list of liabilities, resolutions and business plans, sale books of essential payments, official email and annual borrowing plan, among others.
He emphasized that the move will help the Bureau build the profile and also understand the financial statuses of all SOEs operating in the country.
“With the issue of compliance, we want to ensure that all SOEs are in compliance with the act of establishment, the Board resolutions and other national commitment. We expect that all SOEs will confirm to these regulations”.
Mr. Cummings defined State Enterprises as a legal entity that is created by the government through an act of legislation in order to participate in commercial activities or services for and on behalf of the government.
According to him, SOEs turned as an autonomous entity does not serve as a single autonomous entity under any ministry or agency.
He named the LEC, LPRC, LTA, NPA, among others as some of the SOEs in Liberia.
Mr. Cummings pointed out that as part of its plans for 2022, the Bureau intends to also develop a management system to digitize and supervise SOEs activities in the country.
He disclosed that the system named SUMIS is a web band designed system that will also help capture human resource information, assets registry, summary financial transactions, and liabilities of State-Owned Enterprises in Liberia.
“We are talking with central government in terms of providing the necessary funding to establish that. We have developed a lot of frameworks to roll out in the coming months”.
He noted that in a bid to guarantee compliance, a reminder communication has been sent to all SOEs to provide quarter and annual reports in consonance with Section 1.1 and 2 of the PFM law and the decree what created the Bureau.
“We expect all SOEs comply with this reminder as the BSEs takes no pleasure in anyone not meeting this mandate”.
Mr. Cummings added that a Corporate Governance Code will be setup to design guidelines for activities of the Board and authorities of various SOEs to avoid the “overlapping” of functions.
“We will be having a mapping of SOEs into sectorial form; identifying SOEs by sector and developing new business platform for them-and to also engage them to understand what the opportunities in terms of working on expansion are”.
Building public trust
Mr. Cummings observed that citizens do not have trust and confidence in some State-Owned Enterprises rendering services and generating revenues for the Liberian government.
According to him, the Bureau of State Enterprises will intensify efforts this year to regain citizens’ trust in SOEs.
He said the Bureau seeks to make these SOEs transparent and accountable to the Liberian people.
“Weeks from now, we will be rolling out our first batch of regulations specifically on financial transactions of state enterprises. We want to say this clear to all SOEs that it’s expedient that the BSE work along with them to ensure that these mechanisms are effective so as to dispel any news out there that is not correct”.
Mr. Cummings assured that the Bureau remains firm and ready to ensure that all SOEs are in consonance with these regulations and procedures issued.
Will recommend dismissal
He pointed out that his entity will not hesitate to recommend to President George Manneh Weah the dismissal of any head of SOEs who failed to apply with the regulations and mandate from the Bureau.
“No one person is above the law. We take no pleasure or recognition in individuals. We take keen or full attention on what the law says. There are specifics according to the decree to ensure that SOEs are in conformity with the law. We believe that this act is in support of the pro-poor agenda and we are here to do our work to ensure that the trust in public corporations is rebuilt”.
“We are certain and confident that public corporations will concur with these governance structures and regulations. Public corporations governance needs to have its governance structures rehabilitated. Public corporations are under obligation to submit their reports by law; the Bureau of State has the power to make recommendations to the President for the replacement of suitable candidate to various positions as Manager or Board member”.
Mr. Cummings challenged members of the Board of various SOEs to muster the courage and compel heads of these agencies and corporations to abide by its regulations.
Earlier on, Mr. Cummings recalled that the BSEs was inherited with numerous challenges as a result of its prolong dormancy.
He said the offices of the Bureau were relocated from a small office at the old Ministry of Labour to a “much more conducive working environment” located at the old Gender Ministry in Monrovia.
He added that internal reforms were carried out to put in place effective structures to meet with present day realities, including the establishment or modernization of various divisions including the Compliance, MIS, Financial and Media Departments.
Mr. Cummings pointed out that authorities of the BSEs held various meetings with heads of various SOEs, including the General Auditing Commission (GAC), Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Internal Audit Agency (IAA), Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), among others in a bid to acquaint them with the workings of the Bureau.
According to him, the Bureau has also been working with donor partners to make the entity more productive, effective and efficient in carrying out its assigned tasks and responsibilities.
He said the Bureau has rolled out an exercise which compels SOEs to provide a quarterly report to the Bureau and also provided the necessary logistics to its workforce to enhance its operations through the support from the central government.