The potential for partnerships for SaskTel continues to be a possibility.
At the release of the Crown’s annual report Tuesday, it was confirmed discussions at the executive level are ongoing.
“There has been at a high-level enough information that has been provided about a potential partnership that needs to be more fully investigated,” Dustin Duncan, the minister responsible for SaskTel, confirmed.
But Duncan was reluctant to share what companies the government and Crown executives have met with nor what any partnership would look like.
“I don’t want to leave the impression that something is going to happen,” Duncan insisted. “I think there needs to be further work to investigate what a fulsome partnership would look like.”
Soon after the 2016 election, the premier talked of entertaining offers for SaskTel, but backed off when public feedback strongly said leave the Crown alone.
These discussions indicate that, while SaskTel as a whole is not for sale, the door is open to everything else.
The NDP argues that provides no confidence nor certainty for the Crown or the people that work there.
“They have a hard time coming forward with clear answers as to the future of SaskTel, as to what partnerships as they see them mean for SaskTel and what back door meetings are they having,” NDP MLA Warren McCall said.
Either way, Duncan maintains certain questions will be asked and answered before they would move forward.
“How does this improve SaskTel as a company going forward in the future, how does it ensure that we protect the head office, how do we potentially through this partnership grow jobs in Saskatchewan, how do we improve services, how do we improve coverage,” Duncan said.
The ongoing financial success of SaskTel is evident in its annual report.
For 2016-17 net income is $134.8 million with operating revenues of $1,277.2 million. Revenue grew over last year and there was a small decline in operating expenses.
Dividends of $30 million were provided back to the Crown Investment Corporation.
With ongoing improvements and upgrades SaskTel can boast one of the largest fibre networks in western Canada.
With a system like that it is little surprise SaskTel is attractive to the major corporations like Bell and Telus and why government might consider how that could be improved.
Duncan maintained the government may decide after all not to pursue any partnership.