Atcon assistance package may be decided within week: Business NB
The New Brunswick government plans to make a decision on a possible loan guarantee to the Atcon Group by the end of next week, according to a senior Liberal cabinet minister.
The Opposition Progressive Conservatives used question period on Friday to pound the Liberals on disclosing any bailout package to the Miramichi-based construction company before the legislature adjourns for the summer next week.
Acting Business New Brunswick Minister Jack Keir said the cabinet would like to have any potential assistance package worked out in the coming days, but he does not want to rush it.
"We want to make sure we do the due diligence on this, that the business case works," Keir said.
He said Atcon, like other companies in the province, is having trouble getting bank loans because of the global credit meltdown.
Company officials have declined interviews on the proposed financial assistance package and have not indicated how much they are requesting.
Officials were in Miramichi on Thursday negotiating a loan guarantee rumoured to be worth $50 million.
Keir said on Thursday that Atcon has created 78 of the 150 jobs it promised last year when it received a $13-million loan guarantee from the province last summer to help the company work on a $135-million bridge project in the Northwest Territories.
Alward wants details
Opposition Leader David Alward said he won't take a position on the package until he knows the details.
Three weeks ago, he said he was opposed to what he called a bailout while the provincial government was cutting school support workers.
Alward said he suspects the government is stalling so that it won't face questions in the legislature on the deal.
"If they are going to move forward with the company, then they need to deal with it," Alward said.
"Let New Brunswickers know what the conditions are, so New Brunswickers can make up their own mind."
Also on Friday, a government official said Atcon leases, but does not own, a corporate plane.
Alward said it's still a cost that the company should be willing to get rid of if it wants help from provincial taxpayers.