NSL equity in SOEs possible: Minister

Minister for State-Owned Enterprises and Public Investment, William Duma, says he will not rule out the possibility of Nambawan Super Limited (NSL) taking up equity in State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

He said this in response to a proposal for the fund to acquire interest in the SOEs to settle more than K2 billion in unfunded superannuation by the state to public servants.

Duma said if a company is to take up equity in SOEs, it should be PNG companies with a track record.

“I wouldn’t rule that out. Namabwan Super looks after the interest of our people and they are a national institution, so it would be better off having a national institution taking up equity in some of our SOEs because the money stays with us, these are our companies.”

Following the announcement of NSL’s 2017 results, chairman Anthony Smare said they are open to the idea of taking up equity in SOEs to settle the government unfunded super component.

“It fits our investment criteria and if it fits our governance requirements,” said Smare.

Smare said bringing in private sector partnership into the SOEs will improve the performance of the state companies, given the strong governance structures within private sector boards such as NSL.

Duma agreed that private sector discipline was needed in SOEs’ board but there was already such representation which, at most times, did not work.

“When you look at the current board of our SOEs, most of them are filled with people from the private sector background. Some very successful business people are on some of those boards.

“So naturally you would expect them to make the right decision for our boards. Unfortunately in some cases, that has not been happening so you can never get the perfect combination,” said Duma.

(William Duma file pic)

Cedric Patjole