Costly holiday


PORT OF SPAIN — While Monday’s public holiday to honour Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott team was a boost to patriotism, it was a costly day for businesses, Ansa McAL chairman Norman Sabga said yesterday.

Speaking after the conglomerate’s annual general meeting at Ansa McAL’s headquarters at the Tatil Building, Maraval Road, Port of Spain, Sabga said the holiday was a good idea, however.

“I think overall it worked out well for the country,” Sabga said.

He added that the “level of patriotism” displayed for Monday’s return of some members of the Olympic team, including Walcott, has done a lot to raise the spirit of Trinidad and Tobago.

Sabga said the announcement of the holiday on Sunday night by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar allowed for some shuffling of staff, but workers had to be paid double and triple-time wages.

“From a business standpoint, it was a hugely expensive situation for us,” he said.

Commenting on last Saturday’s floods that left several districts in North Trinidad with significant damage, Sabga has called for the establishment of proper building codes.

He said he could not comment on what needed to be done to stem floods at this time, as it is not yet ascertained whether claims of deforested hillsides and ad hoc development were the cause but he believes there must be proper building standards in place.

Tatil will at this time focus on processing claims for flood victims as quickly as possible, he said.

At yesterday’s AGM, the Ansa Group reported top-line revenues of $2,698 million, reflecting a nine per cent increase over 2011, which stood at $2,486 million.

Profit before tax generated was $371 million.

While revenues were up, profits were slightly down, Sabga said, due mostly to underperformance in the Barbados business, a result of substantial one-off provisions in their financial services company.

The cost of restructuring distribution services in Barbados is also reflected in these half-year results.

The group also reported an interim dividend of $0.30 per share, which will be paid by November 9. (Express)

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