Dominica says plan to prevent LIAT liquidation needs fine-tuning

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(CMC)— Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said the proposal submitted by Antigua and Barbuda PM Gaston Browne to prevent the liquidation of LIAT needed “to be further fine-tuned”, but committed to support it.

“As I have indicated publicly and privately we will provide support for what the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda is pursuing because if it works it can certainly ensure more access, more flights coming into our country because the Antigua-Dominica connection is critical,” Prime Minister Skerrit said.

“We wait and see. Once we have more details, obviously it is an initial proposal that was submitted that has to be further fine-tuned based on the discussions last night and then I could share some of the details of that subsequently to the Dominican public.

“But we shall wait and see, but just to say we will support the initiative once the refined documents come back to us, but we support him,” Skerrit told radio listeners in his homeland following the meeting.

Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines have agreed to sell their shares in the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, to accommodate a new reorganisational plan outlined by Antigua and Barbuda.

The agreemnt also includes selling three of the aircrafts that had been acquired with funds provided by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

The other major shareholder government of the Antigua-based airline is Dominica.     

According to the new reorganisational plan, a copy of which has been obtained by the CMC, Antigua and Barbuda is proposing re-investment of EC$108 million with St John’s indicating that under the new plan it is prepared to underwrite up to 50 per cent of the required capitalisation.

“The new capital invested during reorganisation will be protected, in that it will rank in priority above all other creditors in the unlikely event of liquidation,” it said, noting that the remaining EC$54 million to be shared by other private and public sector entities, including existing shareholder governments.

However, the Antigua plan said if the existing shareholder governments are not interested in investing in the reorganised LIAT, they will be requested to surrender their shares for EC$1.00, which it claims is a superior offer to what they would get in liquidation.

“As far as practicable, the private sector should be encouraged to participate in the recapitalisation and directorship of LIAT. Private sector ownership and participation is desirable and would bring a greater focus on commercial operations of LIAT and profitability.”MORE IN HOME

The plan also notes that LIAT, after it returns to good financial health, is to offer jet services out of Miami on a wet lease of two jet aircraft, should necessary feasibility studies confirm that such services would be profitable.

The plan indicates that the jet service could also open up new markets that connects the Caribbean and Latin America to include Panama to facilitate inter-regional movement of people and goods.

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