What's Trending: NIS sells

Looka Lew, lookalew@nationenws.com

Added 02 December 2012

whatstrendingbloc

The Nation’s Associate Editor, Sherie Holder-Olutayo takes a look at what’s trending today in Barbados. Today’s Sunday Sun front page story which revealed that the National Insurance Scheme has solds its shares in the former Barbados National Bank (BNB) to Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago has our online readers talking. Some readers questioned the wisdom of such a move and were quick to offer their comments. Tony Webster: One thing I have learnt about politics, is that timing is everything: Today’s cow-cakes will smell like roses next year. And vice-versa.  And  Trinnies playing  "hard-ball" with us for sure. However the greatest, inescapable pity is that rather than investing the proceeds of sale in a long-term productive and strategic asset managed by NIS, these funds will disappear in a few puffs of smoke as the treasury uses them to meet pressing monthly commitments, and a dollop is temporarily added to our reserves. Cud mek a grown man cry. Carl Harper: Once again we see the political will overriding professional and academic judgment and desire. Dr Robinson said a share swap is the preferred way to build equity in Republic Bank since NIS is liquid. The DLP government put the brakes on him and said, not so fast big guy, we’re selling those shares 'cause Government broke and we need more cash since we’re borrowing about $40 million monthly from NIS to pay public worker  wages and salaries. How else could Government justify accepting a share offer of $5.00 when the market price is $5.50 per share, if it was not desperate? This tells me that Republic Bank, on recognizing Government's weak bargaining position, proposed the lower 50 cents per share in a "take it or leave it" offer. Government, "with cap in hand," was left with no choice but to accept at millions of dollars shortfall to the NIS. Since a public worker job seems more precious than the already 16,000 lost in the private sector, Minister Sinckler, PM Stuart and Senator Ince have all boasted that not one single government employee has been sent home - at this time (listen carefully). Hence, Government needs the extra cash to keep paying them into the foreseeable future - if DLP is reelected. Let's see if Dr Robinson will resign as chairman of NIS following this embarrassing development, and disappear quietly into the night, just as former chairman Tony Marshall did after his Board proposed the idea of paying pensioners via bank deposit. It was later knocked down by the Minister with responsibility for the NIS, Dr Byer-Suckoo. Roger Manning: Very sad short term thinking. I bet that all of the money from the sale, will go towards paying public sector employees for one month.

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