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Saskatchewan Crown, Global Transportation Hub accrues $46 million in debt

The Global Transportation Hub.
The Global Transportation Hub. Taryn Gibson / Global News

The Saskatchewan NDP is demanding a public inquiry into the Global Transportation Hub after the government-owned Industrial Park in Regina accrued more debt as it fails to sell land for the second consecutive year.

The GTH’s debt is over $46 million according to the GTH’s 2019-2020 financial statement. This is an increase of $1.3 million from the prior fiscal year, which ended on March 31.

The growing debt has contributed to a $2.2-million deficit for the Crown, despite the GTH forecasting for a $738,000 deficit in 2019-20.

“There’s been a lot of wasted dollars,” said NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon. “These are public dollars.”

The GTH was developed by the Saskatchewan Party government as a way to attract business to the area through land sales and development, but for two years the GTH has failed to sell any of its lands, and leases were down $2 million in 2020.

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After having no sales in 2019, the Saskatchewan Crown hired Colliers International on a five-year contract worth $1.4 million to manage the land, but it didn’t result in any land sales. In 2019-2020, the company was paid $96,984.

Read more: Saskatchewan’s $8.5M investment fund for First Nations fails to create jobs

Outstanding payments are also contributing to the GTH’s debt according to the financial statement.

Over $926,000 is owed to the GTH through their account receivables. This is an increase of nearly $500,000 from the previous year.

According to the financial statements, one undisclosed customer is responsible for 39 per cent — or $361,114 — of the outstanding collection.

“These numbers should shock anyone concerned about the province’s balance sheet, which is why we’re calling for the Standing Committee on the Economy to convene and dive deeper,” said NDP GTH Critic Cathy Sproule in a statement.

The government committee hasn’t reviewed the last two financial statements from the GTH. Sproule has been asking since last September for the committee to reconvene.

On Thursday, Wortherspoon further asked for a public inquiry into the GTH.

“We want a hearing at the committee, to dig deeper in the report, ask questions,” Wotherspoon said.

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“It’s an important part of legislative scrutiny that occurs with the reports. The fact (the Saskatchewan Party government) shut down that scrutiny is a concern.”

Global News reached out to Minister Don Morgan, who is responsible for the Global Transportation Hub regarding the committee meetings and the potential for a public inquiry to further review its financials.

His statement praised the GTH’s management company, Colliers International, as being the largest brokerage firm in Saskatchewan and the world, but he did not comment on a public inquiry or committee meeting request.

“With their world class systems and access to national and international networks they will continue to aggressively pursue opportunities to strengthen relationships with current and prospective clients, positioning the GTH for long-term sustainability and success,” Morgan said in a statement.

Read more: Conflict of Interest Commissioner investigating GTH lease involving minister’s son

He also pointed to the cost-cutting measures like reducing staff and board size, which reduced the GTH’s operating losses by $1.2 million.

The financial report says the savings will be realized in 2020-21 as “future land sales will improve profitability, positioning the GTH for long-term sustainability.

The report also said COVID-19 “frustrated efforts to move land sales and leases through to completion.”

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The coronavirus pandemic was declared 20 days before the GTH’s fiscal year ended.

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GTH pays nearly $78,000 public tax subsidy for employee buses