REGINA – The Saskatchewan government is defending a decision to sell a Crown corporation that the Opposition calls a golden goose.
Don McMorris, minister responsible for Information Services Corp., says it’s a good time to sell it.
The corporation, which handles land and personal property registries, tabled its annual report Tuesday and posted a $21.2 million profit – most of which will go into provincial coffers as a dividend.
“It has been a very good year for ISC. It’s their third-highest profit year and so about $19 million goes back into the (general revenue fund),” said McMorris.
“We think it’s an excellent time, a perfect time, opportunity to put it up for an IPO. We think investors would look at it as a very good investment, it’s a company that’s making money, it has a good track record over the last number of years and the future looks very bright.”
The government introduced legislation last November that will allow it to sell 60 per cent of Information Services Corp.
McMorris has said a sale is the best way for the company to grow beyond Saskatchewan.
The shares are expected to raise between $90 and $120 million, which the government has said will be used to build infrastructure, such as roads.
McMorris pointed out Tuesday that the legislation says the company’s head office must stay in Saskatchewan and that the province will also keep 40 per cent of ISC.
“It’s an opportunity not only to capitalize part of the company that we can put into major investments…but also into the future, maybe retaining as many earnings from ISC as we are right now through the 40 per cent share and corporate tax with a growing company,” said McMorris.
New Democrat Warren McCall says the corporation works well and the profits help pay for health care or education.
McCall was skeptical about where the profits could be recouped.
“Well, you know, love, trust and pixie dust – a lot of things might happen,” said McCall.
“What we know is the track record of this corporation, the track record is nearly $100 million of dividend over the last five years. We’ve got a corporation that’s working for the people of Saskatchewan.”