Big changes for state entities, says minister

2011-08-15 10:53

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) have to implement transformation measures that will benefit black accountants, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba has said.

“There is transformation to be implemented, we’ve pointed them to the direction we want them to take,” Gigaba told a delegation of black accountants at a breakfast meeting in Pretoria.

He did not go into details about these changes, as it would “steal the thunder” from the SOE boards of directors and chief executive officers.

This was a first meeting of its kind where black accounting firms shared with the minister the problems they faced in the industry as compared to their white counterparts.

Issues raised included hesitation by the government to give them big tenders, which impacted them negatively.

They spoke in turns about how they were disregarded by government by being refused tenders and “relegated to the last seats in the room” – although they undertook to train graduates that white firms refused to train.

Gigaba was requested to intervene so that all SOEs gave preference to black firms and that the focus was shifted from big white-owned accounting firms such as KPMG.

The development of black accountants by big firms was also put on the table by delegates who said this was the only way they could get more expertise – which would see them getting work from JSE-listed companies.

Examples were given of state companies that had shut their doors to black firms, including Transnet, SAA and Denel.

Gigaba conceded that transformation was part of his department’s vision and that the public sector should open doors for these firms as they did not have anywhere else to go when excluded by the private sector.

“There is something we can do for black auditing firms. We are committed to transformation like nobody’s business and you will see the changes we are talking about.”

Gigaba said all issues raised, including transformation, would be discussed at a chairperson’s forum next week, where the government’s new growth path and the extended role of SOEs would be discussed.

“We will raise the issues as sharply as you raised here.

“Our view is that you shouldn’t have to beg work from the same government that you helped to create,” said Gigaba.

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