Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 21st 2016 Contents BG4 COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JANUARY 21 • 2016
Just two months into his tenure
as chairman of TSTT, business-
man Emile Elias is forecasting
annual growth of 20 per cent for
the company. He said there are
plans for an aggressive marketing
campaign to increase the telecommunications
provider s customer base as it embarks on a
$98.7 million capacity expansion plan.
Although he did not give details, Elias said
the plan includes the expansion of the speed
of the network, followed by a second phase
when there will be convergence of TSTT s serv-
Elias, who brings five decades of leadership
to TSTT, said the goal of the new board is to
grow revenue, control costs and improve the
service the company provides to its client base.
Faced with challenges in TSTT s external envi-
ronment---such as a recession and competition
in the telecomunications sector---he said there
is also the task of deepening the relationship
between TSTT s management and its main bar-
gaining unit, the Communication Workers
Union (CWU). Another objective is to improve
the company s already strong balance sheet, he
Elias, along with TSTT s chief executive Ronald
Walcott, recently sat down for an interview with
the Business Guardian at the offices of NH
International (Caribbean) Ltd, in St James.
"We are not bothered by the competition.
We are focused on our strategy and our strategy
is to expand our capacity and to improve the
speed at which our services can be delivered,"
Walcott explained that TSTT started off
with a 3Gmobile network core which was later
expanded to a 10G core. Now, there are plans
to move to a 100G core, and TSTT is moving
from a global system for mobile communication
(GSM) technology to a universal mobile
telecommunications system (UMTS).
The company has already laid down 8,000
km of fibre optics and is way ahead of its
competitors in that regard, Elias added.
Plans to retrain
TSTT is also looking at staffing levels. The
company s human resource sub-committee is
currently gathering information on the number
of jobs outsourced, areas where there is under
staffing and areas of excess staff.
"Our initial focus is not retrenchment. Our
initial focus is not job cuts. We may have to
face that in the future because technology
does, in fact, change the profile of employ-
ment," said Elias, adding that he embraces the
idea of a partnership between the union and
"In the current three-year agreement, which
is about to come up, we are not in a position
to increase wages. Especially if we try to pre-
serve jobs and retrain and redeploy as the first
option, we are going to require that the ratio
of the employee costs to total revenue does
not increase. We cannot absorb another penny."
Backpay of $800 million cannot work either,
so the settling of negotiations must be timely,
bearing in mind the cost of labour. Elias said
he plans to have meaningful discussions with
the union after Carnival.
In the short term, the chairman said TSTT
is aiming for a monthly cash flow surplus, not
necessarily a profit.
"We have to generate the cash surpluses
that we need so, if we take on a billion-dollar
loan to fund the expansion in 4G and other
areas, our cash flow will be more than adequate
to service any commitment."
Asked whether an initial public offering
(IPO) was being considered to raise the capital
TSTT requires, Elias said: "First of all, that is
above my pay grade. That is a matter for the
political directorate of the country."
Costumers to benefit
from VAT savings
Elias said a very strong board has been
installed at TSTT which can move the company
upward and onward.
"I have a lot of business experience. We
have a financial expert as well, we have a legal
expert, an HR expert, and an administrative
expert. There are five excellent board members,
so far I am certainly anticipating that the
members who would come from NEL would
be similarly qualified in various fields."
Elias said he will do what he can to allow
his experience to benefit TSTT.
He said once a new board is appointed to
the state investor company National Enterprises
Ltd (NEL), the remaining TSTT directors will
"We anticipate that may happen towards
the end of January. They will then nominate
four directors to TSTT board."
He added that all the saving from the reduc-
tion in the rate of value added tax will be
passed on to our consumer.
"We don t know, yet, if the recession would
impact our operations. We ll wait and see. We
are going to be aggressive to get whatever
business that is available out there," Elias said.
New chairman aims for 20 per cent growth
chairman of TSTT
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