PORT VILA, VANUATU – The directors of Vanuatu’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are participating in an intensive two-day training workshop starting today in an effort to boost the sector’s governance and performance.
“SOE reform is vital for Vanuatu’s economic future, and director training is a key catalyst for reform,” said Andrea Iffland, Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney. “Reform will improve basic service delivery, reduce the costs of doing business, and create opportunities for private investment.”
Vanuatu’s SOEs have weighed on the country’s economic performance in recent years. Between 2008 and 2012, government equity in eight of 11 SOEs fell from Vt2,840 million to just Vt851 million—a decline of 70%. And while SOEs represent 17% of the Vanuatu Government’s total net assets, they paid just 0.05% of net assets in dividends back to government, according to the most recent data (2012).
The workshop is the last of three training programs supported this year by the Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative. PSDI is a regional technical assistance facility funded by Australia, New Zealand, and ADB. It works with ADB's 14 Pacific developing member countries to improve the enabling environment for business and support inclusive, private sector-led economic growth.
Director training has been a key component of a broader program of ADB technical assistance (TA) to the Vanuatu Government, financed by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. The TA commenced in April and its key deliverables besides director training include reform plans for SOEs, capacity development on SOE monitoring, and legislation to enable SOE reforms.
Workshop participants will discuss topics integral to boosting SOE performance: from corporate governance and the roles and responsibilities of the board, shareholders, and management; to long-term strategic, business and investment planning, and finally to accountability mechanisms such as reporting and director performance reviews.
The workshop follows the September presentation in Port Vila of findings from the recent ADB report, Finding Balance 2014: Benchmarking the Performance of State-Owned Enterprises in Island Countries, when policy makers and private sector representatives heard how engaging the private sector with, for example, public-private partnerships, could improve poor SOE performance and service delivery.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2013, ADB assistance totaled $21.0 billion, including cofinancing of $6.6 billion.