Crown corporations less generous to the chests ?

Des sociétés d’État moins généreuses pour les coffres ?

Photo: Valérian Mazataud The Duty
The SAQ was able to continue its activities and expects the same to be paid more than the $ 1.2 billion expected.

Casinos closed, lower sales of electricity and the doors closed on Sunday for the branches of the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) ; then that the public finances will be undermined by the pandemic COVID-19, the government Legault risk of having to revise downwards its expectations of its main cash cows.

Filed on 10 march — prior to the deployment of containment measures — the budget of the minister of Finance, Eric Girard, was counting on an increase in the amounts obtained from Hydro-Québec, Loto-Québec and the SAQ. However, it is rather the contrary which may occur.

Interviewed by The canadian Press, Hydro-Québec, Loto-Québec and the SAQ did not want to move forward on the targets that were included in the last budget. However, they all recognized that their activities, like almost all of the businesses, were being affected by the new coronavirus.

For 2019-2020, the contribution of the three companies of State should represent approximately 4.75 billion $ on a total budget of 117,9 billion $. In regards to the current financial year, the forecast is to 5,16 billion dollars on government revenues total advance of $ 121 billion $.

If this may seem trivial, a decrease in dividends paid by State companies seen as cash cows remains non-negligible, said Marie-Soleil Tremblay, a professor at the national School of public administration, during a telephone interview.

“The money that we do not get with these companies State, it is then necessary to go look for them either through consumption taxes or income taxes “, she observed.

Since Quebec is the sole shareholder of these companies, Ms. Tremblay is expected that they are asked to update their forecasts in order to better estimate the impact of their budgets as revised on the public finances “.

Even if she has hinted that there may be an impact on the dividends paid by Hydro-Québec, Loto-Québec and the SAQ, Fanny Beaudry-Campeau, the press attaché to the minister Girard, felt that it was too early to move forward on new forecasts.

“We don’t know yet because we don’t know yet how long the crisis will last “, she stated at the end of the wire.

Impact multiple

Since 13 march, Hydro-Quebec has seen the electricity consumption decrease of 4.45% in Quebec. The observed increase of the side of the residential customers could not offset the sharp decline in the commercial and industrial sectors.

This is reflected by a decrease in sales of approximately $ 50 million in Quebec after a mild winter than usual.

“This is not the beginning of the year is favourable, it is clear,” conceded a spokesman for the Crown corporation, Cendrix Bouchard, during a phone interview.

On the export market, it could also be an impact, but Hydro-Québec has argued that, until now, its hedging strategy to protect themselves from price fluctuations, has worked well. More details will be available when the State-owned company will provide an update on its financial performance in the first quarter.

The budget Girard was counting on a contribution of 2.18 billion $ from Hydro-Québec for the fiscal year ended at the end of march and 2.28 billion $ for the current financial year.

At Loto-Québec, the sales of online lotteries is ongoing, but those who have eye on the big prize can no longer buy tickets in kiosks and retailers. The activities were also stopped in the casino and games rooms since mid-march. In 2019, during the quarter from April to 24th June, the casinos in Montréal, Charlevoix, Lac-Leamy and Mont-Tremblant generated revenues of $ 213 million, which represents a daily average of $2.5 million.

“If one allows the re-opening of casinos at the end of June, that is three months of contribution which will be missed in the year “, underlined the spokesman of Loto-Québec, Patrice Lavoie, without advancing on the target of $ 1.37 billion in the last budget.

On the list of services deemed essential by the government Legault, the SAQ was able to continue its activities and expects the same to be paid more than the $ 1.2 billion expected by the government Legault for the year ended the 31st march last.

Its branches are now closed on Sunday and the goodwill of the customer is more controlled than usual.

In spite of everything, the situation appears to be stable, according to a picture provided by the spokesperson of company State, Mathieu Gaudreault, in which he did not, however, advanced on figures.

“We have observed weeks very busy in our branches, he wrote in an email. The ridership of these weeks was comparable to what one usually observes in the weeks preceding the holidays, due probably to the fact that the customers have requested to make reservations for fear that the branches close. Sales have since stabilized. “

There has also been more online orders, which resulted in new hires to prepare them. The services of a delivery company were also chosen.

— — —

Expected Contribution of the State companies this year (fiscal year 2021-2022 is in brackets)

— Hydro-Quebec : 2.28 billion $ 2.5 billion $)

— Loto-Québec : $ 1.37 billion ($1.4 billion)

— SAQ : 1.22 billion $ ($1.25 billion)

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