Editorial: The quest for dividends

POSTED: 06/4/12 1:59 PM

National Alliance Member of Parliament George Pantophlet has raised the matter of government owned companies paying dividends to its shareholders with the new finance minister Roland Tuitt. This is no surprise considering that the MP has consistently opined that these companies must pay the government more than just concession fees as a structural way to provide the government with more revenue.
The fact that Pantophlet continues to press this issue is not in and of itself a major news item. Nor is the fact that Tuitt has committed to establishing a committee to look into whether it can happen. But it does open the door for a critical question. Has the government finally put together a dividend policy?
Seeing as Pantophlet has raised financial statements submitted to Board of financial supervision that show healthy companies there is a second question to be looked at: Was former shareholder representative for the airport Theo Heyliger not being truthful when he said the Princess Juliana International Airport was hardly able to pay its concession fee? If this is the case, we can only imagine that it would a major stretch for the company to pay dividends.
Let us also not forget that government owned companies and government run foundations are the ones to bear the cost of the Corporate Governance Council. That will no doubt affect their ability to pay dividends.
So while we understand this quest for dividends, it’s time for government to put the hard facts on the table and say whether the companies can afford the payments or if pressuring them to do so would be folly.

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