Contributed by: Don WinnerThe General Manager and Executive President of Cable & Wireless Panama S.A., Jorge Nicolau, handed a check for more than $21.5 million dollars ($21,532,968.95) to the government of Panama as owner of 49% of the company. Employees of the company, who own 2% of the shares, received a payment of $878,896.69 as payment for their share of dividends and accumulated earnings of the company through 31 December 2006. The company, Cable & Wireless Plc., will receive a share equal to that received by the Panamanian government, $21.5 million dollars, as holders of the other 49% of the shares in the company. In addition to the dividend payments, the Panamanian government will receive and additional $1.7 million dollars ($1,713,322) for income taxes owed on the money being payed to the Cable & Wireless company and employees, raising the grand total being paid to the government to more than $23.2 million dollars. In addition, this distribution represents only a partial payment for 2006 income because their contract obligation runs from 1 April to 31 March of every year, and this distribution was part of the celebrations for the tenth anniversary of the company.
Editor's Comment: Yen years ago under the administration of Panamanian President Ernesto Balladares Panama's national telephone system, formerly known as INTEL, was privatized and Cable & Wireless took over. The funds from the sale went into what amounts to a national bank account which is still there and earning interest. The government of Panama retained 49% of the shares of the company and employees were given 2%. Since then, and no matter what you think of the service level of Cable & Wireless, as someone who was here during the INTEL years, let me tell you that service has improved significantly. Cable & Wireless was given a seven year period of time to consolidate the market, and now other companies can offer residential telephone service. There are several lawsuits in the system with the various players fighting amongst themselves to determine exactly who can do what with which wire or switching system, and all of that will be worked out over time. But in the big picture more choices and greater competition always works out to be a benefit for consumers.