Economic hardship: Bayelsa to commercialise parastatals, agencies

To diversify the local economy in the face of dwindling revenues from the Federation Account, the Bayelsa State Government on Thursday said it has concluded arrangements to commercialise some of its parastatals and agencies.

The State Chief Economic Adviser, Mr. Duate Iyabi, said the resolution was reached at the 59th  Executive Council meeting of the state government in Yenagoa, as part of efforts to move away from its mono-economy.

According to him, the three key areas of the government’s focus will be on power generation, agriculture as well as land ownership and housing, as the administration can no longer sustain its recurrent expenditure from the federal allocation.

The Chief Economic Adviser, who explained that the government’s decision to commercialize the state-owned parastatals and agencies was borne out of its inability to properly manage its businesses, stressing that, the move would boost the internally generated revenue of the state.

On power generation, Mr. Iyabi described the sector as an area where the state has comparative advantage, noting that arrangements are underway to attract power developers to set up their plants and sell power to the national grid.

Commenting on the provision of housing, he noted that, the government has identified two key locations in the state, where it would embark on the construction of low cost houses, medium and high-brow houses for the people under a public, private partnership.

Also briefing the press, the Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, Barr. Kemela Okara said the commercialisation policy was targeted at realising the full potential of the agencies and the parastatals with a view to ensuring job creation, revenue generation and efficient service delivery.

While allaying the fears of workers, Barr. Okara explained that, the government would carry out an audit exercise in such enterprises with a view to ascertaining their economic viability.

“The primary objective is that, we want to achieve the true economic potential of these enterprises, because the idea behind setting them up in the first place was very good. The question is managing them effectively. So, the fate of the workers would be greatly enhanced; the objective at the end of the day is to increase the number of opportunities for jobs. So we must keep faith with the exercise.”

On the proposed industrial park, he said construction work on the first phase of the project would commence before the end of this year, as a lot of “off taker companies” have shown interest in the project.

•Photo shows Bayelsa Governor Seriake Dickson.

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