Government has decided to give investors in the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) the option to pump money into the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).
The announcement was made by government’s Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst yesterday, who said the aim is to improve the company’s competitiveness in the telecommunications market and to, ultimately, use the profits to subsidise utility costs.
“One of the reasons APUA has fallen behind the two big giants in telecoms is that it hasn’t had the capital to invest in the new technology and not to the extent that it ought to,” Hurst said. “So we are attempting to find ways in which APUA can attract capital.”
Hurst continued, “In order for it to do so, APUA has to be corporatized in a way that it is not now and also made attractive to those who believe that APUA telecoms, especially, can create profit.”
Explaining that the profits gained through the investments will be used to subsidise the cost of water and electricity, Hurst noted that previous successes in the telecoms department – such as the introduction of PCS several years ago – have helped to lower the cost of water in Antigua & Barbuda.
“We know that water is sold in Antigua & Barbuda at a cost far below what it costs to produce a gallon of water and to a lesser extent, electricity is sometimes subsidised also,” the government official said. “The success of APUA telecoms led to lower prices, certainly in water.”
He added, “What we hope to do is to continue to have at least one part of APUA be so productive and so profitable that it can continue to assist.”
The government is hopeful that investors would see this as a viable option, Hurst said, adding that the additional monies into the corporation will give it a leg up with competition.
“So we are hoping that business people who have an interest in becoming citizens of Antigua & Barbuda can, in fact, find APUA as one of the alternatives in which to invest,” the chief of staff said.
“That would give APUA the capital it needs and therefore put it under a stronger footing to compete more effectively with the two giants against which it is now in the marketplace.”