Uche Usim, Abuja
The Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Alex Okoh has said that the Federal Government saves $3 billion annually since it began privatizing key government assets.
He said the privatization programme was not designed to share the country’s national assets to a few rich people as erroneously believed.
Speaking at the Dinner/Award Night in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of reform, commercialisation and privatization in Nigeria which held in Abuja recently, Okoh said the government was not replacing public monopolies with private monopolies via privatization.
“Rather, in our determination to be unyielding and uncompromising in the pursuit of the best interest of this country, we are removing the financial burden which these enterprises constitute on the public purse and releasing resources for the essential functions of government.
“This essentially is the mandate given to BPE, to pursue this vision, thereby contributing to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
“This process has freed up over $3 billion that was hitherto consumed by Public Enterprises (PEs) annually in terms of subventions, waivers, and unpaid taxes among others”, he explained.
Okoh, however, regretted that despite the development of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy in 2009, establishment of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and creation of PPP units in nearly all the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the PPP governance framework as currently structured, was somewhat convoluted and a disincentive to attracting reliable and big pocket private sector investors to the infrastructure market.
The BPE boss added that the private sector has been positioned through various reforms to become the engine room of economic activities and infrastructural development, while government was being released to focus on governance and creating an enabling environment for business to thrive.
“The Bureau has initiated and executed far-reaching reforms in telecommunications, pensions, seaports, debt management, solid minerals, and most recently, the power sector reform that led to the successful unbundling, privatisation and in some cases, concessioning of the successor companies created out of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)”.
He said the impact of commercialisation and privatisation has been felt in various sectors of the economy including aviation, development finance, postal sector, downstream oil and gas, and a host of other initiatives.
“It also consists of major infrastructure areas like roads, railways, airports, national inland waterways and the special economic or free-trade zones”, he stated.
He said the NCP/BPE was pursuing the current transactions with renewed vigour, confidence and in a more responsible manner; and that the BPE has a new vision for the future that is based on rediscovery and re-positioning.
“This has put the Bureau on a path of disciplined and responsible reform, an effective post-privatisation management regime, and a pivot to addressing the infrastructural deficit by tackling the defective Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) framework currently in place in Nigeria”, he said.
Okoh added that the BPE has been repositioned to play a major role in coordinating and driving the process; adding that “We are well-equipped from our track record and robust processes to provide a one-stop-shop for prospective investors under a consistent, fair, equitable and transparent process”.
“However, we can only achieve this expeditiously if the present ambiguities in coordination, governance and institutional framework for infrastructure development through PPP are addressed.
This will give confidence to private investors in both the integrity of the process and protection of investments. This is the role we have set our minds on and we are determined to see it through with the support and collaboration of key stakeholders”, he maintained.