With some of the worst performing state-owned enterprises or SOEs in the Pacific region, the Marshall Islands Ministry of Finance has launched a reform program in an effort to change the picture.
This has included the recent establishment of an SOE monitoring unit within Finance and engaging a consultant expert in functions of SOEs, the Marianas Variety reports. Finance Minister Brenson Wase said the Asian Development Bank’s support for Public Financial Management Reform and the creation of the Reform Coordination Unit within the Ministry of Finance has taken on a new dimension, with the start of work to support SOE reforms through the new monitoring unit.
Last month, Finance officials started a weekly two-hour session for managers and boards of SOEs. These weekly workshops are focusing on revised SOE legislation adopted by parliament in 2015, but not widely implemented. The sessions are a launch to the new Finance monitoring unit’s oversight of SOE compliance and performance. The SOE law requires government agencies to develop business plans, a variety of performance measures and codes of conduct.
The Marshall Islands has 11 SOEs — utility companies, a national airline, Ports Authority and the Marshall Islands Development Bank among them — which as a group have performed poorly by regional standards for decades, according to reviews of government-run agencies.
In comparison with other Pacific economies, the state-owned enterprise sector in the Marshall Islands is one of the region’s weakest performers.