March 8, 2011

Policy Holders await answers in BAICO saga

Policy holders and other persons affected by the beleaguered British American Insurance company (BAICO) are yet to know what stance the Government of Trinidad and Tobago will be taking, as the saga continues.{{more}}

The topic was tabled and raised by Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Dr. Ralph Gonsalves at the most recent intersessionary meeting of CARICOM leaders last weekend in Grenada, which was attended by many heads of government in the region.

The Prime Minister indicated that during his address on the issue, his counterpart from Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persaud Bissessar was absent from the session, but he updated her on the recent workings of the institutions established to salvage the BAICO.

“She said ‘Well you know like I told you from the beginning that (Finance Minister) Winston (Dookeran) is leading on this matter,’.”

“She didn’t give any indication to me that she was going to be favourable. I know she speaks a lot about ‘You know we have to be careful because we have so many demands on us locally in Trinidad: the police, the civil servants, the this, the that. We have our own CLICO policy holders and so on and so forth.”

Dr. Gonsalves said that his counterpart claims that she appreciates the importance of having a regional solution to the problem, and that she appreciates that her nation has a special responsibility in the matter.

“She proclaims that she is a regionalist and I take her at her word.”

Earlier last month during a press conference, the Prime Minister said that he was of the view that Trinidad and Tobago should play a more important role in bringing some resolution to the matter.

At that press conference Dr. Gonsalves noted that:

“The mind and management of British American was in Trinidad. British American and CLICO are subsidiaries of CL Financial which is based in Trinidad.

“Right here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, they gave us a note of US $46 million in the statutory fund to keep the statutory fund liquid, but there is a problem with that note because of what has happened to CL Financial. So they owe us about US $60 million in the sub-region.”

“The collapse of CL Financial is mainly due to the colossal failure of corporate governance, reckless excessiveness, risk taking by CL financial in Trinidad.”

He, at that time, indicated that he had raised these points before, and indicated that he was ‘not picking any fights’ but stressed that ‘leadership has got to be exercised’.

“That is why I believe that Minister Dookeran in Trinidad understands that Trinidad and Tobago has to play an important role in this regard.”

“The asset shortfall in British American and CLICO, it poses a clear and present danger to the stability of all our financial systems in the Eastern Caribbean; and anywhere you have that manifesting itself fully without it being contained, it will certainly have a knock-on effect on Trinidad and Tobago….”

“People of the Caribbean are getting fed up with this. We have to be urgent on matters of immigration, freedom of movement (and) we have to be urgent with the immediate matters of British American and CLICO.”(JJ)