PHILIPSBURG–The approval of the 2019 budget is part of the process that has to be finalised before the sale of St. Maarten’s minority shares (12.5%) in United Telecommunications Services (UTS) can be completed.
Majority shareholder Curaçao (87.5%), has already completed the sale of its shares to Cable and Wireless Communications parent company Liberty Latin America Ltd.
St. Maarten’s shareholder representative Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said, on Wednesday, that the process to finalise the sale includes the approval of the budget as the sale has to be listed as an income in the budget. “Once the budget is passed that will give us the go ahead to finalise the sale of UTS,” de Weever said during the Council of Ministers press briefing.
Asked what impact a major company (such as Cable and Wireless) will be on local telecom company TelEm, Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin said TelEm’s Supervisory Board and management are in discussions with government and have submitted a proposal which is being reviewed, “and then we will proceed from there.” Romeo-Marlin said the matter is a priority for stakeholders, but assured that “we are doing something about it.”
De Weever said St. Maarten is following every step that is required by law to ensure that the sale is done legitimately.
De Weever had said during a recent parliament meeting on the pending sale that a “strategic partner” would acquire the shares of UTS and this will be accompanied with all obligations to personnel. He said at the time that the ‘strategic partner” would be required to adhere to local rules and regulations. Also, in the Sales and Purchase agreement, there will be no material layoffs for two years. The “strategic partner” did not express anything in reducing the workforce.
The minister had said also that the Council of Ministers is aware that the sale will have an effect on TelEm, and an impact study has to be done to determine the short, medium and long-term consequences of this. Discussions have been ongoing since 2009 for TelEm to be a strategic partner of UTS, but noting materialized from these talks. UTS Eastern Caribbean operations has 58 employees.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/86721-budget-approval-needed-for-uts-sale-to-be-finalised