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20.01.2006 Business & Finance

GBC To Go Private

By Graphic

... GNA & Du Bois Centre to follow? The state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) will go off the government's subvention list this year, the Minister of Private Sector Reforms, Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom has said.

The move is intended to make the 70-year-old corporation to become fully autonomous, so that it can undertake reforms in order to take its destiny in its hands.

Since 2002, the personal emoluments of the corporation has been more than ¢132 billion. Also to be removed from the list of government subvented agencies is the GRATIS Foundation.

In an interview, Dr Nduom said two other state institutions, the Ghana News Agency (GNA), which had also been struggling over the past decade to live up to expectation and the Du Bois Centre, will be reformed, but retained on the list of subvented agencies.

With this, the government is expected to reduce its total budget allocation for subvented agencies pegged at about ¢3,756, 035,259,669 out of which a whopping ¢1,236,068,526,237 is provided for personal emoluments alone.

On GBC, Dr Nduom said the government took the decision because it believed the corporation had come of age and, therefore, it was now time for it to be on its own, having been provided with new equipment, vehicles and other logistics costing millions of dollars.

The minister said with this GBC should be able to improve its revenue generation, organise properly, improve its programming as well as make judicious use of the huge investments made in it in recent times.

“This does not mean the corporation will have to do things against the public interest but it needs to ensure that it commercialises its operations through proper management and judicious use of resources," he said.

"The Graphic Corporation now Graphic Communications Group Limited and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) which were removed from the list of subvented organisations have both performed creditably through proper reforms, restructuring and efficient management and therefore, GBC should also be able to do same", Dr Nduom added.

He said it was the hope of the government that GBC applied the same principles as the two institutions to enable it to become a more viable entity.

“The ministry was prepared to work hand in hand with the Ministry of Information and the National Media Commission (NMC) to ensure that the transition is made as smooth and transparent as possible," Dr Nduom said.

“Staff establishments had not changed in 30 years at GBC. There are 1,440 people at the headquarters alone and 442 in the regions with a pool of temporary staff numbering 52, a staff strength which is far more than all its competitors (radio and television) put together.

“Most of the staff are poorly qualified, computer illiterate and over 55 years of age and have been in service for between 25 and 40 years.

Retirements and deaths at top and middle management levels have rendered succession planning impossible and, therefore there are no substantive directors for administration, business, engineering, finance and legal divisions,” he said.

Presently, the corporation which was once the toast of the airwaves, both television and radio, utilises only 21 per cent of its airtime for commercial purposes because the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and other institutions did not pay for services rendered to them by the corporation.

In May 2000, the National Institutional Renewal Programme Secretariat commissioned a consultancy firm to undertake a diagnostic study of GBC .

The objectives of the study were to allow GBC to finance its operations and future investments without further subventions, offer improved value for money by providing high quality services for any given level of expenditure while remaining 100 per cent state-owned.

Dr Ndoum admitted that the transition would not be easy but reiterated the commitment of the government to ensure that the process would be smooth.