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Government Has No Business in Telephone Operations

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Dear Source:

In the matter of the Government of the Virgin Islands entertaining the idea of purchasing the telephone company (Vitelco) it is ludicrous and the proposal should be relegated to file 13. The governor himself doesn't need to rely on financial advisors to recognize that the purchase of the telephone company and television companies is not in the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands. The government has no business in the telephone operations. The government has no expertise in the telephone business. Over forty years ago, this same government sold the old telephone system in its entirety, and that was a prudent decision. No doubt the phone company is experiencing problems and has proposed to dump the problems on the people of the territory. The owners of the phone company should exert their energies to sell the company to the private sector. The 26th and 27th Legislatures should not entertain the proposal if when the governor should send proposed legislation.
Then comes the revelation that the Chairman of the GERS board had secret dealings with officers of the telephone company, which would lead to managing the company if it were acquired by the government. The Chairman has conveniently forgotten that GERS Board has a fiduciary responsibility to manage and invest GERS funds in a prudent manner. It seems as if the GERS Board is ready to spend the System's funds loose and fast without oversight from the legislature or the beneficiaries.
Lastly, it appears that if anyone has a non-prudent or non-bankable proposal, which no financial institution would touch, the first stop is the GERS. For a Government Retirement which has an unfunded liability close to one billion dollars, this no time for the entertainment of wild ideas.

Eric E. Dawson
Viera, Florida

Editor's note: Eric Dawson is a former V.I. commissioner of the Economic Development and Agriculture Department and four-term member of the V. I. Legislature, (1973-1979; 1985-1987).

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