PLP wants independent expert on BTC deal
The Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)is suggesting an independent expert be brought in to look into both the Bluewater and Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC)offers for the purchase of shares in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC).
The PLP said it would be more useful and transparent to the public if an independent expert was immediately engaged to make the comparison between the two offers as opposed to statements the government continues to release regarding the offers.
Early this month, the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU)with CWC for the sale of a 51 percent stake in BTC at a cost of$210 million, plus stamp tax. Back in 2007, the PLP was discussing a deal with Bluewater Ventures Limited for 49 percent of BTC for$260 million.
In a statement released late Wednesday, the government argued that its deal with CWC is better for the county than the deal proposed by the PLP three years ago.
“CWC has the economies of scale and the purchasing power to give strong support to BTC in an aggressive competitive environment,”said the Cabinet Office.
“There is no doubt that CWC is a market leader, and we are fully convinced, and have seen the evidence of the enormous transformation that the company has undergone in our region in recent years due primarily to its own conviction that change was essential in the face of competition. On the other hand, Bluewater had no operations at all to our knowledge.”
But the PLP said the government’s statement is yet another attempt to mislead and misdirect the public’s attention from the central issues concerning this matter of national importance.
“Those issues are that majority ownership of an important national asset is to be sold to a regional telecommunications company(Cable and Wireless)which has an established reputation for aggravating its workforce; that the net price, taking into account the assumption of over$60 million in BTC’s pension liabilities is considerably less than the$210 million being touted; and above all, the unions and the majority of the people in the country are against the sale of BTC to CWC,”the party said.
“The attempt to draw comparisons to Bluewater, one of the first projects to be assaulted by the’stop, review and cancel policy’, is as lamentable as the’voodoo valuation’to support its case.”
The Cabinet Office statement said the PLP deal would only have netted$50 million at the time of closing. It said Bluewater would have taken$70 million BTC had in the bank and another$40 million would have been paid over time.
“The sale price of$260 million was nothing more than a gimmick designed to deceive and mislead,”said the Cabinet Office.
Defending the Free National Movement deal, the Cabinet Office said CWC will pay$210 million plus$7 million in stamp tax at closing
“And the government at closing will receive any net cash in excess of$15 million. Therefore, the net cash benefit to the government of the CWC transaction will be at least$202 million,”said the Cabinet Office.
The PLP said the real issue is that the majority of Bahamians do not like the deal and the government is turning a deaf ear to their legitimate cries of concern.
“It is the Bahamian blues, not Bluewater that ought to be urgently addressed,”the opposition party said.