Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has written to his Barbadian counterpart Freundel Stuart, over what he says has emerged as a “Barbados-only” plan for policyholders of the collapsed British-American Insurance Company Limited (BAICO).
“The judicial manager in Barbados put forward a plan and I don’t like the plan,” Gonsalves told reporters, adding that he did not “mince words” in his five-page letter of June 25.
Gonsalves did not release the letter to the media but read sections, which, he said, would give insights.
“We are aware that in its December 2014 report, the judicial manager of CLICO international Life insurance Company (CLICO) recommended to the Supreme Court of Barbados that there be a liquidation of the company. We are aware, too, that in the week of June 15th, 2015, there were two meetings in respect to the above-mentioned matter in an effort to avoid liquidation and arrive at a consent order and another on Wednesday the 24th of June 2015. All concerned appreciate that liquidation is a last resort.
“However, we wish to place on record the vigorous objection of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union to the proposed Barbados-first plan which is now emerging as a Barbados-only plan,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, told reporters that he has to defend the interest of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the policyholders of CLICO.
Noting that he is also the person in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) with responsibility for BAICO and Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO), Gonsalves also said he has to defend the interest of policyholders in the ECCU.
“I explained in it the whole story. I am not going to release this letter yet. I am waiting to hear all the various objections to what was emerging as a Barbados-first plan to what is a Barbados-only plan,” he said, adding that Minister of Finance in Bridgetown, Christopher Sinckler, has said this is not the case.
“Well, he can have a view, and I can have a view and we have to sort out where the interest of everybody resides.”
He quoted the letter, saying, “As a minimum, an independent assessment of the proposal is critical. This should, among other matters, examine the risks and costs of the proposal to policyholders in the Currency Union. Appropriate government arrangements, transparency and collaboration must be established with compensation as necessary so that the interest of the Currency Union policyholders are properly considered in real-time and before key event occur that may be irreparable.”
“The reason why I say that they are saying some things which we could get down the road. I want it in real time…” Gonsalves said.
He told reporters that the letter also says “there should be interdependent assessment provided as to the division and management of CLICO’s assets”.
“And then I ended saying, ‘We remain open to discussion on this matter in an effort to find a solution palatable to all concerned and are prepared to make representatives available to discuss the matter with Barbados Ministry of Finance and Financial Services Commission.’”
“So I just want the people in CLICO to know we still at the wheel dealing with the matter,” Gonsalves said.
He, however, said that realistically, he doesn’t think that Port-of-Spain will disburse before the general elections in September anymore of the US$40 million that Trinidad and Tobago had agreed to give to help to resolve the matter.
“I am just saying that. But I am still pushing and hoping,” he said.