Discipline is very crucial if the Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA), as a State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), is to move forward, Chief Executive Officer, Colin Yow says.
Mr Yow made the remark in Singapore this week when he presented an overview of SIPA’s projected growth to a visiting Solomon Islands Government delegation.
The delegation consisting of the Minister for Infrastructure Development Hon Stanley Festus Sofu, Minister for Commerce, Industries, Employment and Immigration Hon William Bradford Marau and the Chairman of the Government Caucus Hon Jackson Fiulaua are in Singapore to learn about the reforms being carried out on SIPA by the Singaporean consultancy firm International Business Dynamics. The reform programme is funded by the Asian Development Bank.
Mr Yow said, much has been achieved by SIPA in the last 15 months since he was engaged as chief executive.
The achievements include the reduction of debts by both overseas and local ships, procurement costs, provision of free lunch and increased housing allowance for employees, controlled staff salary advances, precise staff overtime claims and improved staff punctuality and productivity.
“At the end of January 2015, the total outstanding debts by overseas ships were reduced to $17.20-Million as a result of the debt recollection programme that was put in place in the middle of February 2015. By the end of April, we have $4.6 Million outstanding.
“This means we have collected $12.6-Million in two and half months. Yes in two and half months we collected 73 per cent of the longstanding debts and we aim to collect the remainder by the end of this month.
“The total balance of local ships longstanding debts for the end of January 2015 was $2.8-Million. At the end of April 2015, the balance was $1.7-Million. This means that since the new debt instalment plan was started in March 2015, we collected $1.1-Million in two months which is 39 percent so the deadline to collect the balance in June 2015 is achievable.”
On the reduction of procurement cost, Mr Yow said, SIPA lost millions of dollars through inflated procurement costs over the years and the problem has been addressed by the introduction of a rigorous procurement process which requires his final endorsement.
As to the free lunch for employees, the SIPA CEO said this initiative is expected to boost work punctuality and productivity.
“The cost of this initiative to SIPA is expected to be in the vicinity of $2.5-Million per annum but is worthwhile because it will see a marked improvement in staff punctuality and productivity at work. Similar arrangement will be made for the Noro-based staff.”
On the increased housing allowance initiative, Mr Yow said SIPA has reviewed and implemented a housing allowance of $2000.00 per month for employees who are not living in SIPA houses. The housing allowance scheme will cost over $3.1-Million annually.
“This may be a substantive cost but it is in the best interest of employees and SIPA itself that a reasonable amount of money is paid to the employees who are not provided with houses. This initiative will also contribute to staff punctuality and productivity.”
On staff salary advances and staff overtime claims, Mr Yow said these issues were longstanding problems that impacted on SIPA’s finances and measures have been taken to deal with them.
As to staff punctuality and productivity, the SIPA CEO said, SIPA has seen a marked improvement in staff punctuality and this has resulted in marked improvement in productivity and efficiency by SIPA.
The SIPA CEO said, these achievements did not come easy, adding that he had faced life threats by people not happy with SIPA’s reform programme.
He said, he has put in place strategic plan for the modernisation of SIPA and this plan will see the review of port tariffs with the intention of increasing them to further improve SIPA’s revenue base.
Mr Yow said, he has a vision to turn the Honiara port into the hub port of the South Pacific and his achievement of this dream requires the support of the Solomon Islands Government.
He said, it is important that the Solomon Islands Government is enlightened about the details of the reform programme SIPA is undergoing so it will take the steps required of it to ensure the success of this ADB-funded programme.
By Deli Oso