Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 12th 2016 Contents A15
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Finance Minister Colm Imbert said
yesterday he signed off on about $300
million on Wednesday to pay contractors
whose invoices have been validated.
Local contractors are claiming that
government agencies and state-owned
enterprises owe them about $2 billion for
work done during the previous
"I signed some warrants yesterday...if my
memory serves me correctly it would have
been close to $300 million of bills that
would have gone through the process of
authentication and validation and so on."
Imbert said this money would be
dispatched to various state enterprises to
deal with outstanding payments for
Imbert said he was able to sign off the
payments because T&T's overdraft at the
Central Bank was now at zero.
"That is one of the things you can do
when your overdraft is zero. But as soon as
you do that your overdraft goes up. So we
have 95 per cent of the overdraft available
to us, where previously we had none.
"So I got it down to 100...so that 100 per
cent of the overdraft was available. I have
now spent five per cent of the overdraft,
some $450 million."
Imbert signs off on $300m for contractors
Chairman of majority state-owned TSTT,
Emile Elias, said yesterday described as
"legally flawed" the Request For Proposals
(RFP) issued by the Telecommunications
Authority of T&T (TATT) in 2014 for a third
Elias was responding to a report in the T&T
Guardian yesterday in which managing director
of Colombus Communications Trinidad, Brian
Collins, called on TATT to name the successful
applicant for the third mobile licence.
T&T currently has two licensed mobile
operators---TSTT and Digicel.
Colombus Communications, which trades
as Flow, has provided cable television and
broadband Internet services in the region for
12 years. It was acquired by Cable & Wireless
Communications (CWC) in March 2015 for
US$1.85 billion plus accumulated debt and
the resulting entity was purchased by US cable
provider Liberty Global earlier this year.
Elias said T&T did not need a third mobile
operator because the country already had
about 2 million cellphones for a population
of 1.3 million people.
"In addition, the RFP, which two years ago
sought to invite applications for a third mobile
operator, was legally flawed and cannot be
the basis for the new government and the
new board of TATT to act upon," said Elias.
He added senior counsel has advised TSTT,
and had also advised TATT, that the RFP
should be "scrapped" and that the third mobile
operator licence should be "completely recon-
sidered as inappropriate for T&T."
The TSTT chairman said he had been told
that a senior attorney had advised TATT
almost two years ago that "the significant
material changes in the proponents" of the
third licence were grounds for the RFP to be
scrapped. That advice was ignored by the last
board and administration, he said.
Elias said: "We have always maintained at
TSTT that it was completely wrong to com-
mingle the third mobile operator licence,
which was contained in the RFP, with a spec-
trum licence. It was an inappropriate com-
"What we want TATT to do is formally
recognise that that RFP is illegal, inappropriate,
of no consequence and that they cannot act
on it. They should move towards the allocation
of spectrum to the two existing mobile
licensees without further delay."
The commingling was inappropriate, he
said, because only new applicants would have
requested both a third licence and spectrum
(LTE 4G), whereas there were two existing
applicants who only needed new spectrum.
According to Elias: "It was inappropriate
also for CWC to be sitting in the boardroom
of TSTT, as the 49 per cent shareholder,
throughout the preparation of the response
to the RFP and at the same time they were
engaged in conversations to merge with a
competitor, which was responding to the said
He said even if Flow and/or CWC received
a third mobile licence, they have no infra-
structure in T&T to support mobile sub-
Said Elias: "The infrastructure of TSTT is
not available to them to implement any mobile
operations. Zero infrastructure of TSTT is
available to them."
Flow and CWC, according to Elias, are in
no position to implement any kind of mobile
operation as they have no infrastructure "and
it would take them ten to 15 years" to put the
appropriate infrastructure in place, given the
difficulty of getting planning permission for
new cellular towers.
Asked whether the telecommunications
regulator, TATT, can force or prescribe the
sharing of infrastructure between operators
as a condition for the grant of spectrum, Elias
said TSTT is meeting with its attorneys and
intends to write to TATT on the several issues
formally next week.
Describing TSTT renting out its infrastruc-
ture to a competitor as akin to cutting off the
company's nose to spoil its face, Elias said:
"I do not see that this new TATT board or
the new Government would engage in that
kind of activity, which is so self-destructive
to a national company like TSTT."
The ANSA McAL group yesterday
declared after-tax profit of $352.8 million
for the first six months of this year, an
increase of less than 1 per cent compared
with the same period in 2015.
The group's unaudited results described
these results as a modest improvement over
Revenues increased by $16 million to $2.88
billion while the Earnings Per Share (EPS)
improved by 1.7 per cent to $1.78 for 2016
compared with $1.75 in 2015.
Chairman of ANSA McAL, Norman
Sabga, attributed the group's positive results
despite "contracted market activity" to its
"I always talk about the conglomerate
model and the resiliency and being in so
many different areas and the balancing act
of one sector being up and the other being
down. It has worked well for us. Not every-
body has the ability to manage multiple
organisations in multiple disciplines in dif-
ferent jurisdictions," he said speaking yes-
terday on the 10th Floor of the Tatil Building
Speaking about the group's brewery acqui-
sition in Florida, he said it has been a suc-
"The Florida Indian Beer River Brewery
Company is the third largest brewery in
Florida. In the month we have been in oper-
ation we have already seen a significant
improvement in the results of that organ-
isation. We thought it would have taken
three to four months to put things in place
but within a month our managing director
has been able to do the basics. That was all
it took to turn it around. That is a particular
transaction that we are excited about. That
makes four breweries in the group," he said.
He would not say how much the acqui-
In the automotive sector, he said ANSA
McAL has been in the "unfortunate position"
where two of its suppliers could not supply
resulting in late supplies that affected the
In the media sector, Sabga said it is not
performing as the group wishes, but it is
being overhauled for future growth.
"It is not great but we are in a restructuring
programme. We are reorganising. I am proud
of the talent we have there," he said.
On the issue of a depreciation of the TT
dollar, he said it would be positive for man-
"I believe that the Finance Minister said
he would defend the exchange rate at $6.83
to US$1 so we are not there as yet but he
would defend it at that level.
"They have demonstrated that they will
defend it. At some stage there may be slip-
page when they think that it is convenient
to get to that level. I do not see further slip-
page in the short term. Would a devaluation
help manufacturing? The answer would be
yes, but it would affect trade. One would
go up and one would come down," Sabga
ANSA McAL declares $353m profit
Elias: Third mobile licence illegal
Dr Anthony N Sabga, chairman emeritus of the ANSA McAL Group, left, chats with beverage sector
head, Anthony Sabga III before the start of yesterday's release of the group's 2016 half-year results
at Tatil Building, Port-of-Spain. Looking on from right (background) is chairman and chief executive
of ANSA McAL, A Norman Sabga and deputy chairman, Andrew N Sabga.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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