THE government should have a contingency plan to set up a company to buy the Steam Packet in the event it is put up for sale, the Liberal Vannin Party says.
Shares – up to a maximum limit – would then be sold to Manx residents.
Liberal Vannin believes the ferry service is ‘a vital part of our life and our livelihoods and should, as soon as possible, be owned by Manx residents’.
And it believes the government should have a contingency plan in case the Steam Packet was put up for sale. It is currently owned by Portuguese bank Banco Espirito Santo.
Party leader Peter Karran MHK said: ‘One issue the world economic crisis has highlighted is the island’s new government of national unity needs policies that promote more self reliance if we are to protect the social improvements that have been achieved of the last 25 years.
‘The present structures of the key components of off island transport, energy and telecommunications need close investigation to maintain a diverse economy for the island. The new administration has to own up to the total mess and the fiscal madness of the previous administrations’ policies such as the user agreement with the Steam Packet and the MEA fiasco and be brave enough to take the steps to rectify the situation for future generations.’
The contingency plan would involve the government forming a new company with two classes of share capital.
Government would retain the articles of association, including control of the criteria of ordinary shareholders as well as the service the company would provide. Ordinary shares would be sold to Manx residents.
Infrastructure Minister David Cretney MHK said the issue had not been discussed in the Council of Ministers, of which Mr Karran is a member. He said the user agreement provided a consistency of service that had been missing previously. And he said the DoI was working with the Steam Packet to move forward in the future. The Steam Packet declined to comment.