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TSTT’s acting CEO George Hill said despite an estimated total comprehensive loss for the year of $505 million, the company’s financial position remains strong.
In a pre-audit statement on the company’s performance for the financial year ended March 31, Hill said higher gross revenues and lower operating costs had been eclipsed by provisions made for TSTT’s voluntary separation programme; retroactive payments from an Industrial Court ruling on employee costs for 2006 and 2007 and a write-down of the carrying value of a portion of the company’s service delivery platform. These items had a cumulative impact of over $727 million.
He said gains and setbacks had been anticipated in the implementation of TSTT’s five–year strategic plan, which focuses on network infrastructure, service automation and organisation transformation.
Hill noted that as a result of an aggressive cost management programme that included control of TSTT’s receivables, vendor management and debt policy, the company was able to realise a 2.7 per cent increase in gross revenues and gross margin efficiency was up 3.7 per cent. He said the company’s overall net core performance, compared to the prior financial year and exclusive of cumulative one-off items, was very much improved.
He said TSTT’s efficiency ratio more than doubled during the year and despite the decrease in shareholders’ equity due to the fall in comprehensive income, the debt to equity increased marginally from 28 per cent to 25 per cent, which was well within international telecommunication benchmarks.
“Looking ahead, year two of the five-year strategic plan will build on the positive developments made in year one. The write-down of a portion of the service delivery platform is making way for a significant automation upgrade which will improve service responsiveness and cost of serving” Hill said.
He said focus on broadband was already being felt in several communities with the launch of long term evolution technology projects to support the rapid deployment of the fastest available wireless broadband to cover 95 per cent of the population.
“At the same time TSTT’s fibre deployment programme will encompass 30,000 more households over the next three years. The current phase of that programme involves a $15 million investment to serve communities in Tobago, central and north Trinidad with TSTT Quad-Play of broadband, TV, voice and security services”. Hill said the mobile expansion programme has yielded significant improvements in coverage and quality of service and the company had seen an increase in the take up of its mobile data services.
“This focus on mobile, broadband and enterprise will expand the company’s potential for making further contributions to Trinidad and Tobago’s development and its ability to provide a solid return on investment for its shareholders,” he said.