Sask. defends sale of profitable Crown corporation ISC
The Saskatchewan government is defending a decision to sell a Crown corporation, ISC, that is making millions.
Don McMorris, the minister responsible for Information Services Corp., said Tuesday this is a good time to sell.
The corporation, which handles land and personal property registries, released its financial results for last year and reported $21.2 million of profit, of which about $19 million will go to the province's general revenue fund.
"It has been a very good year for ISC. It's their third-highest profit year," McMorris said. "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," he said.
Opposition New Democrat MLA Warren McCall, however, said the corporation works well as a Crown and its profits help pay for health care or education.
McCall was skeptical about what would become of any future profits.
"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."