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Insurance switch ‘by the book’


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Fired National Housing Corporation (NHC) chairman Marilyn Rice-Bowen says the changing of the corporation’s insurance companies last year was fully endorsed by Minister of Housing Michael Lashley and the Cabinet.
She also said the move to change from Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL) to CGI Consumers Guarantee Insurance Company Limited brought substantial savings to NHC and Barbadian taxpayers.
“What’s the point and what’s the motive?” Rice-Bowen queried yesterday, as she responded to reports that questions were being raised about why the brokerage firm CGM Gallagher, managed by her son Damian Bowen, was paid significant commission to search for an insurance firm for the corporation.
“When the decision was made to use the services of a broker, the reasons advanced for using a broker as opposed to using a specific company, is that a broker would canvass the market to get the best rate for the client.
“When a proposal came forward for CGI Gallagher, I told them [the board] that my son works there as finance manager and because of that I recuse myself from any discussion,” Rice-Bowen told the DAILY NATION.
Leafing through several pages of minutes during her tenure as NHC chairman, she said there was nothing to hide or any wrongdoing, noting it was a board decision and “not Marilyn Rice-Bowen’s”.
“What we [NHC board] did was in keeping with the established rules and policies of the corporation,” she explained.
“Minutes of all board meetings go to the minister and then to Cabinet. Yesterday [Tuesday] was the first time I knew there was a problem with it and this is since March 2009. Nobody has ever said anything to the board about this matter,” she added.
She reiterated that as NHC chairman she had always been “above board”, and had always “gotten support of the board and have always gotten excellent cooperation”.
Rice-Bowen, who was dismissed as NHC chairman last July 31, cited differences with the Minister of Housing in recent times and accused him of bypassing the board with the awarding of NHC contracts.