Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
KINGSTOWN – The St Vincent and the Grenadines government says it will seek the assistance of other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to get Trinidad and Tobago to pay the US$100 million it had pledged to deal with the fallout of the failed British American Insurance Company (BAICO).
BAICO was among the companies owned by the Trinidad-based CL Financial Group that also included the Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) that collapsed in 2009 resulting in successive governments in Port of Spain pumping in billions of dollars in a bailout plan.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves told a news conference that the former People’s Partnership government in Trinidad and Tobago had paid US$34 million of the monies owed, but that the Keith Rowley administration that same to office in 2015 has not made any payment.
Gonsalves said that his government has been holding talks with the government in Port of Spain to get the remaining US$64 million.
“A commitment was made to us for US$100 million in relation to British American Insurance Company, it was reported to CARICOM, we agreed to it [and] everything. We didn’t even consider it to be sufficient, but went along…
“And every time we raise it, they say that they are not in a position to pay,” he said, adding “well now, if you are not in a situation to pay, tell me when.
“If you can give us 20 [million US dollars] this year so that I can have the judicial manager distribute it throughout the region to people to get a little bit more and next year again so that people can know, they can look forward to something and I have to be fighting on behalf of our policyholders in this respect.
“Keith is my good friend, Trinidad is a country of great importance to us as we are to them. We work closely, we have a good relationship, but even among friends, when we have difficulties, we have to talk about them and resolve them,” Gonsalves said.
He said he has asked CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque to place the matter on the agenda for the CARICOM intercessional meeting to be held in Haiti next month.
In November last year, the Grenada government expressed its “profound disappointment” at the failure to date to get compensation for CLICO and BAICO policy holders.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, said then that Caribbean governments continue to view the situation regarding the collapse of the two insurance companies “as a regional problem, which requires a regional solution”.
Mitchell said that his administration is also committed to bilaterally following up with the Trinidad and Tobago government “on its previous commitment to provide US$100 million dollars for BAICO Policyholders in the ECCU (Eastern Caribbean Currency Union)”.
He said that pursuant to Grenada and the rest of the ECCU’s passing of the “Plan of Arrangement Act”, on October 30, 2017, BAICO policyholders voted to facilitate the payment of between EC$0.20 cents and EC$0. 25 cents on the dollar for each policyholder upon full roll-out of the Plan.
“The government of Grenada joins with the policyholders in Grenada and in the other ECCU member states in expressing our profound dissatisfaction with the recovery amounts. We pledge to do our utmost in encouraging maximum collection against the US$121.9 million Judgment secured against the former Directors of BAICO and CL Financial – the parent company”.
Last year, the Trinidad and Tobago government defended its decision to seek a court-appointed liquidator to deal with the assets of CL Financial company saying it was seeking to ensure that taxpayers were not on the losing end of a TT$15 billion (US$2.23 billion) interest-free loan. (CMC)