Arthur: Drag cannot go on
WITH OVER 15 per cent of the population being unable to spend or invest as a result of the CLICO International Life (CIL) debacle, it will result in a drag on the Barbados economy which simply cannot be allowed to continue, says Opposition Leader Owen Arthur.
Speaking at Sunday night’s St Peter Barbados Labour Party (BLP) branch meeting at Alma Parris Secondary School, Arthur said that with over 35 000 people affected by the CLICO situation, if they were placed in a position where their livelihoods were in a state of contingency and they “don’t know whether they are coming or going”, some would basically stop spending, and many would stop investing.
“That situation will put a drag on the Barbados economy [and] I cannot conceive how you will get this economy to grow unless you fix the CLICO problem and let those people feel they can start spending and investing again,” he said.
Adding that there was also a moral side to the issue since it had not been dealt with in the right way, Arthur said Government had a duty to try to correct wrongs.
He recalled that the new Insurance Act taken to Parliament in 1987 had specifically outlined that in the event that an insurance company had a statutory fund deficit, automatically assets set aside would have been available to pay policyholders.
Arthur further explained that the law did not require the Minister of Finance to act but if there was a deficit in the statutory fund, the Supervisor of Insurance should have applied to the courts and have the matter put under judicial management.
“So what we have seen in Barbados has been an abomination,” he said, adding that late Prime Minister David Thompson had not allowed the law to take its course, and did not let the Supervisor of Insurance act when the statutory fund deficit was discovered in 2008.
“What he did was put an informal arrangement not known to the law, I think you call it an Oversight Committee, that has no power to act, and the thing was drawn out, and while it was being drawn out, things that [former CLICO boss Leroy] Parris was being told not to do, he was doing,” the Opposition Leader told the tiny packed school hall.
He said Government was therefore obligated to address the interests of policyholders whom the system had failed.
Arthur said another burning issue was that policyholders’ expectations were lifted because the late and current Prime Ministers and the Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had promised the return of their money; and as a result, some had borrowed but were now being told “a lot of jargon” including Prime Minister Freundel?Stuart’s revelation that the audit report of the judicial managers had been stolen.
“At some stage, this matter has to be fixed,” he said, noting that Parliament would be the sole alternative since it would have to be fixed by a policy that made sense to the interests of those affected.
“You cannot have a situation that affects so many people, where the system has failed, and where the Government does not act. You cannot leave people in a permanent state of contingency,” Arthur emphasized. (RJ)