The Imperative of Privatisation and Commercialization

IN a bid to put the Benue State economy on the path of sustainable growth and development, Governor Samuel Ortom on July 6, 2021 inaugurated the reconstituted Benue State Council on privatization and commercialization of state enterprises comprising seasoned technocrats, business entrepreneurs, lawyers and members of professional bodies.

Inaugurating the council, Governor Ortom explained that there was no justification for the state government to keep wasting scarce resources in maintaining moribund enterprises with obsolete machinery. According to him, if privatized, the annual budgetary allocation to such enterprises would be utilized in funding other development needs of the state. He expressed optimism that if the privatized or commercialized enterprises and establishments are properly managed by capable investors, their operations would become more efficient and effective to generate employment, create wealth and stimulate economic growth.

IT is estimated that successive administrations in the state had invested so much resources in public-owned enterprises with huge losses charged against the public treasury. State enterprises suffer from fundamental problems of defective capital structure, excessive bureaucratic control or intervention, inappropriate technology, gross incompetence and mismanagement, blatant corruption and crippling complacency which monopoly engenders, taking a heavy toll on the state economy.

THERE is no doubt that the problems associated with state-owned enterprises and monopolies are not peculiar to Benue as many developing nations have overcome their problems through a well designed and single-minded pursuit of privatization programme. The rationale is that privatization allows governments to concentrate resources on their core functions and responsibilities, while enforcing the rules of the game so that the markets can work efficiently, with provision of adequate security and basic infrastructure, as well as ensuring access to key services like education, health, security among others.

WE therefore, advise that in order to ensure transparency in the privatization programme, privatization advisers be invited to not only enhance credibility, but also, guarantee access to special skills and knowledge required for handling privatization of utilities.

IN addition, there is the need to attract core group/investors with technical know-how, financial capacity and managerial skills to turn around the fortunes of such unhealthy enterprises.

WE further urge the state government and the council to put in place a vigorous public enlightenment programme to ensure that as many Benue people as possible participate in the programme whose outcome would be widely acceptable by the people of the state.

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