HAVANA - Italian investors in the Cuban telephone monopoly are reportedly increasingly unhappy with their partners in the Cuban government and might even pull out of the joint venture.
The latest and most serious wrinkle between the partners revolves around delays in payment of moneys owed by the Cuban side, said a source
within the company. The source could not name an exact amount, but said it was substantial, enough to imperil the budget of the Cuban telephone
enterprise, ETECSA, for 2004.
“If the Italians abandon the business, all investment plans for public
and private service would go down the drain,” said the company source.
Other projects whose future would become questionable with the
Italians’ exit would be a satellite telephony initiative programmed for next
year and a broadening of cel phone service. A point of contention there
is the fee in pesos to be charged to Cubans. Foreigners are currently
being charged $0.30 (dollar) per minute.
Should the Italian investors, who have been involved in the Cuban
telephone business for some years now, pull out, there are expectations that a Chinese company is waiting in the wings to replace them.