Reform to State Owned Enterprise (SOE) of Solomon Islands is a welcoming move that will enhance performance and productivity of SOEs as a huge income generating entity for the government.
This was revealed by Richard Prebble of Asian Development Bank (ADB) during the SOE forum held at the Heritage Park Hotel, Wednesday.
He said that these SOE reforms includes privatize or just liquidate non-performing businesses.
In addition he said, that the second reform is to increase tariffs and to collect money owed.
Prebble stated that some of his neighbours were illegally tapping into power and into water pipes, and worst of all is the government departments that normally work during the day with lights on and air conditions on for 24 hours is something that we took for granted without considering the costs incurred on that service.
“No wonder, they were not paying for the electricity because the demand for a free service is infinite,” he said.
“So one SOE reform is just getting everyone to pay for the services they use,” he added.
He pointed out that government has restructured the major SOEs like the airline, the electricity and the water and has improved implementation of the SOE Act and the use of community services obligations.
“The use of community service obligations is a reform that the ADB can take some credit for promoting,” he said.
He added, instead of subsidizing a government service such as a government owned ferry the government identifies a social need like a shipping service and calls for tenders for both the government sector and the private sector to provide community service.
“I mention shipping because it is a service that all the island nations need,” he said adding that government provided shipping has proved a ruinously expensive way to provide ferry services, whereas private shipping companies have been willing to provide ferry services that are more frequent, lower fares and at a fraction of cost of the government owned shipping.
Prebble said that Government businesses play a key role in every country and here in Solomon Islands the government businesses command the key sites in the economy, the airport, the port, the electricity, the water and the communications, the airline, the radio and the post office.
He further stated that every person, every businesses and government itself is a customer of government businesses.
“If these government enterprises are inefficient, then everything is inefficient,” he said.
“If these government services are too expensive then, because we must all use these services, it is a tax that makes us poorer,” he added.
“Without electric power a modern civilisation is not possible and without clean water, we die,” he further added.
By AATAI JOHN