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Minister Baksh: Govt should hold on to TSTT

By Asha Javeed asha.javeed@trinidadexpress.com

Public Utilities Minister Nizam Baksh said it's in the Government's interest to hold on to Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT).

He was responding to a statement made by Tim Pennington, chief financial officer of Cable & Wireless (C&W) Communications, on Thursday that the company would like to take full control of TSTT or consider selling its stake in the telecom company.

Cable & Wireless Communications owns 49 per cent while the Government owns the majority shareholding of 51 per cent. The Government's TSTT shareholding is publicly traded though a holding company, National Enterprises Limited.

Baksh told the Sunday Express that he met with a C&W team on one occasion and the C&W officials also met with Finance Minister Larry Howai.

He explained that the meeting was based on a World Bank report with regard to the Government's strategy on TSTT. He said the Government was presented with three options–to give C&W the majority shareholding in the company by allowing it to acquire two per cent more which will flip the power structure to allow C&W a 51 per cent shareholding and the Government at 49; the Government call sell its 51 per cent shareholding outright; or the Government can purchase C&W's 49 per cent.

Baksh observed that Information Communication Technology (ICT) is one of the Government's pillars so it would be in their interest to hold on to TSTT and to expand the company.

Only last week, TSTT launched 4G service on its networks.

"But no final decision has been taken as yet. Those thing would involve lengthy discussions," he said.

The Minister noted that C&W's statement could simply be a strategy to lobby the Government to make a firm decision soon.

Meantime, the Communication Workers Union is in support of the Government's divestment of C&W's shareholding.

Communications manager at TSTT Camille Salandy told the Sunday Express: "Commenting on plans or opinions about the ownership structure of TSTT is outside the scope of authority of TSTT's management as any such discussions are solely between the two owners, C&W and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago."

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