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Finance Minister Blasts Public Enterprises in Sierra Leone.
By Bintu A. Sesay
Dec 31, 2007, 20:28
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The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. David Carew has said that the weak performance and management of key public enterprises is the main factor that is responsible for the poor delivery of utility services by these enterprises and a major obstacle to private sector development and economic growth. The disclosure was made whilst the minister was delivering the budget report for 2008 in Parliament.

The minister discloses that it was in consonance of these problems that the National Commission for Privatization (NCP) was established in 2002 with the mandate to defend government ownership as well as that of restructuring these enterprises. He said the objective was to improve on the efficiency of their operations and reduce the financial burden on government.

In his statement of the financial position of these enterprises, the minister pointed out that the total operating profit for the first half of 2007 fell short of the Le 7 billion forecast for the period.

He highlighted the Government owned Commerical Banks as having rendered profits and noted that the Rokel Commercial Bank constructed an Ultra-modern Branch in Makeni as part of its activities to provide financial service to other parts of the country outside Freetown. He informs that the Rokel Commercial Bank in 2008 plans to revert the declining performance by initiating aggressive marketing strategies focusing on customer care and launching of new products to meet the challenges of competition. He also intimates that the bank planned to open a new branch at Charlotte Street in Freetown adding that in the first half of 2007 the bank achieved an operating profit of Le 4.8 billion which is 11% below the amount projected for the period.

He said that Sierratel continued to register losses by making a net loss of 7 billion in 2006 adding, that in the first half of 2007, the company made a net loss of Le584 million with administrative cost constituting 93% of the company’s gross turn over.

He said Guma Valley Water Company made an operating loss of Le12 billion in 2006 which was 41% higher than the projected loss in the company’s three years cooperate development plan. During the first half of 2007 he added about 350 unregistered customers were regularized and 778 meters were replaced.

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