ADB helps with new Enterprise website

Guests at the launch (Nuku'alofa Times)


 NUKUALOFA-April 21: 1:53pm(Nukualofa Times): The Ministry of Public Enterprises website has been updated to provide key information about Tonga’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) – thanks to the Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative, an Asia Development Bank technical assistance program co-funded by Australia and New Zealand.

The new-look website was launched on Wednesday at the MOE Head Office in Nuku’alofa by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Hon Poasi Tei.

And Tonga has created history in the process by becoming the first Pacific island country to publish detailed state-owned enterprises (SOEs) performance results, portfolio results, and other key information online.

Profiles of each of Tonga’s SOEs, including recent financial performance and the names of board members, as well as the performance of its overall SOE portfolio, will be published on a set of new pages on the Ministry of Public Enterprises’ website.

The new webpages have been developed with support from the Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative, an ADB technical assistance program cofunded by Australia and New Zealand. Amendments to the Public Enterprise Act in 2010—which were also supported by PSDI—required SOE financial accounts to be published in local newspapers. This information will now be published on the new webpages, along with additional data on the SOEs and the portfolio as a whole.

Proud moment

 Speaking at the launch, Hon Tei said the event was a milestone.

Minister of Public Enterprises Hon Poasi Tei speaking at the launch. ADB rep in Tonga, Mr Tatafu Moeaki and Enterprise CEO Sione Akauola are sitting at the back (Photo: Nuku'alofa Times)

Minister of Public Enterprises Hon Poasi Tei speaking at the launch. ADB rep in Tonga, Mr Tatafu Moeaki and Enterprise CEO Sione Akauola are sitting at the back (Photo: Nuku’alofa Times)

“I am particularly proud to announce that with the launch of this website, Tonga becomes the first country in the Pacific to make this range of public enterprise performance data available online,” he said.

“This achievement is consistent with our government’s commitment to increased transparency, and has been made possible through the hard work of my Ministry staff, so I would like to recognize them for their efforts.”

Hon Tei said Tonga’s public enterprise portfolio is composed of 14 entities which together hold an estimated T$454m in assets.

“And it is our responsibility as a government to ensure the proper stewardship of this investment,” he said.

He said that his Ministry is implementing an ongoing program of reforms to improve the performance of the PEs, and this has made their portfolio one of the best performing in the Pacific.

“While we are very proud of this achievement, we are also conscious of how quickly public enterprise results can deteriorate when political commitment to commercial outcomes weakens. Our government’s commitment remains strong, as the launch of this website illustrates,” Hon Tei continued.

“The website will allow the public to have easier access to public enterprise financial results, key governance data as well as links to relevant legislation. The new pages are now live and we will be giving a demonstration this morning.”

He thanked development partners, the ADB, the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand for their support through the Private Sector Development Initiative.

ADB happy to assist

Enterprise CEO Sione Akauola speaking at the launch (Photo: Nuku'alofa Times)

Enterprise CEO Sione Akauola speaking at the launch (Photo: Nuku’alofa Times)

 ADB’s representative in Tonga, Mr Tatafu Moeaki said the website launch marks another important milestone in Tonga’s public enterprise reform program, placing it at the forefront of its neighbors in the Pacific.

“Tonga was the first country in the Pacific to publish the financial results of its public enterprises in local newspapers, and was one of the first three Pacific countries to participate in ADB’s public enterprise benchmarking study, Finding Balance, back in 2009,” Mr Moeaki said.

“This study, prepared by ADB’s Private Sector Development Initiative, has subsequently been updated every 2 years, each time with a larger group of participating countries. The most recent edition, released in 2016, benchmarks 8 Pacific countries.”

Mr Moeaki said that in the latest report Tonga’s public enterprise portfolio had the highest average annual return on equity (5.5%) amongst the eight (8) Pacific countries for the period 2002 – 2014.

“That is a remarkable achievement,” he continued.

He said that in 2016, the countries participating in the Finding Balance study requested PSDI support to help them publish more public enterprise data online.

“This website fulfills this promise, and PSDI is now also supporting Samoa, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Marshall Islands in developing similar web pages,” Mr Moeaki said.

“Again I would like to congratulate the Minister and his team for making the website possible, and the Governments of Australia and New Zealand for their partnership under PSDI.”

Guests included senior civil servants and partners.

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