Governance of public owned enterprises
Reviewing the governance of public owned enterprises to support their sustainability and the effectiveness of their interventions by June 2019.
The commitment is specific as it precisely mentions the area of work, namely public enterprises governance.
Reviewing the governance of publicly owned enterprises can be considered as precise and quantifiable as it has pre-determined key steps to be achieved, such as establishing a body for the governance of public enterprises and adopting new laws.
This commitment was made in 2018, when the only law that regulated contributions and public institutions was the Law no. 9 of 1st February 1989 concerning contributions in public enterprises.1 There was lack of harmony between this law and the current situation of public institutions and enterprises and the absence of any provisions related to accountability, governance, transparency and sustainable development.2
The process of public enterprise reforms started in 2015, and it was a challenging process based on a complete reform strategy of the public enterprises’ legal framework. In December 2019, the draft law was submitted. The parliamentary commission (for administration organisation and armed forces affairs) reviewed it in February 2020 and organised a hearing session with Elbawsala, a national NGO to follow up on the progress of this law amendment via its parliamentary observers. The updates are regularly published on the commission’s website.3 Unfortunately, the new government withdrew the draft law.
Taoufik Rajhi, the major reforms minister, declared that “this new law will revolutionise the governance of public enterprises by providing them with good governance practices aligned with international standards. This will make it difficult for the government to change the business and economic models of enterprises”.2
In the same context, the High Committee on Administrative and Financial Control (HCCAF) published the Guide to Good Practices for a Better Governance of the Institutions and Public Enterprises.4 This guide aims to provide managers of companies and public institutions with an innovative tool that suggests solutions to problems experienced within their functions.
Challenges to effective commitment implementation
The draft of law is on hold, waiting for parliamentary approval since February 2020. This delay is due to the political division on the privatisation of publicly owned companies,5 such as Tunisair, SONEDE, STEG, among others. The long procedures and debates for parliamentary approval and the focus on security and defence matters within the committee are the reasons for the delay in implementing this commitment.
Due to political instability, the draft law has been delayed.
Opportunities to accelerate commitment implementation
This commitment arose at the UK anti-corruption summit, and the Tunisian statement cited “that we commit to enhance legislations regarding companies’ governance based on disclosure, transparency and international accounting standards”. It is also part of the Administrative and Modernization Support Program for public enterprises in support of the 2016-2020 development plan funded by the EU.6
The EU allocated a budget of €73,500,000 for the support programme for the modernisation of public administration and public enterprises in Tunisia in 2019-2020.
Accelerate the process for the creation of a body for the governance of public companies and institutions.
Engage with civil society and the private sector on the reforms needed to implement good governance practices and to guarantee the efficiency of the work of publicly owned enterprises.
Enforce the adoption of the guide to human resources management in public sector in accordance with the standards of the public sector code of conduct.
- Law No. 89-9 of 1st February 1989 on public participation and public enterprises (Articles 18 to 22) http://www.marchespublics.gov.tn/onmp/documents/document.php?id=50&lang=fr1 February 1989
- La Presse, Entreprises publiques en difficulté, https://lapresse.tn/50115/entreprises-publiques-en-difficulte-projet-de-loi-relatif-a-la-gouvernance-des-contributions-etablissements-et-entreprises-publics-letat-ne-compte-pas-privatiser-les-etablissements/26 February 2020
- Marsad Majles, Projet de loi n°81/2019 relatif à la gouvernance des contributions et des entreprises et établissements publics, https://majles.marsad.tn/2019/fr/lois/5e2491994f24d00a3322e95430 January 2020
- HCCAF, Guide Des bonnes Pratiques pour Une Meilleure gouvernance des Etablissements et Des Entreprises Publics,
- WebManagerCenter, Restructuration des entreprises publiques : Transformation ou privatisation ? https://www.webmanagercenter.com/2020/02/21/445062/restructuration-des-entreprises-publiques-transformation-ou-privatisation/21 February 2020
- European Union, La décision d’exécution de la Commission relative au programme d’action annuel 2016 partie I en faveur de la Tunisie,