“They are looking for money everywhere” Tuitt objects to Curacao’s raid on UTS surplus valuePOSTED: 07/12/12 12:14 PM
St. Maarten – “I want to know how these calculations were made and I want to know who made them,” Finance Minister Roland Tuitt said yesterday in answer to questions about the 11.7 million guilders the Curacao-government wants to take from the coffers of telecom provider UTS as a means to help it balance its 2012 budget.
The Board of financial supervision (Cft) disagrees with this course of action, because UTS has to contract a loan to be able to pay this money to the government.
“Dividend is usually paid from freely available reserves and from cash/ That UTS has to contract a loan for this purpose surprises the Cft and it disapproves of such a construction,” the Cft wrote in an advice on June 29.
The Cft also noted that it is unclear whether the proposed UTS payment is indeed dividend.
The Cft is not the only one to object to the UTS-route for fixing Curacao’s shaky budget.
“Even if the calculation is correct, I do not think Curacao should take this money out of UTS without consulting with St. Maarten. We are a shareholder in this company,” Tuitt said.
Tuitt explained that initially the division of shares in UTS between Curacao and the former Netherlands Antilles was 50-50.
“Nobody knows or has been able to explain how those percentages came about.”
After the constitutional change on 10-10-10, Curacao took its part from the 50 percent shares the Netherlands Antilles held, and the division between Curacao and St. Maarten became 75-25. “How that came about has not been substantiated. I will have to get the documentation,” Tuitt said.
When the new UTS public limited company was established, “the assets of Curacao Telecom and Landsradio were brought in,” Tuitt said.
“Then Curacao said that the assets of CTel had a higher value than those of Landsradio. And now Curacao wants to claim that excess in value.”
The minister announced that a letter will go out to the Government of Curacao next week.
“In it I will state that I do not agree with this 11.7 million guilders pay-out. I have never heard of a company that paid out surplus value. Businesswise that does not make sense.”
It’s not that Tuitt fails to see where the government in Willemstad is coming from.
“Curacao is looking for money everywhere. They are plucking their companies. St. Maarten’s share in UTS is now 22 percent. How it went down from 25 to 22 percent, I don’t know.”