Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler says he is very concerned about the rate at which the CLICO restructuring process is taking place, and he has therefore promised to give the matter his full attention to ensure a resolution by yearend “now that the Budget is out of the way”.
Sinckler said he was disappointed that after Government had given its full support for the restructuring eight months ago the process was still dragging on.
And he gave the assurance that within “a couple of weeks’ time” he would be issuing “an appropriate statement” indicating a new timeline in which the necessary transition should be completed.
Last weekend vice president of the Barbados Investors and Policyholders Alliance (BIPA) Deighton Smith reported that authorities would not meet the September 30 deadline set by the High Court for payment of the hundreds of millions of dollars owed to the approximately 15,000 people waiting for settlement.
Government is to approve financing of just over $300 million to help with the restructuring. However, it is still unclear if that has been approved by Parliament as yet.
Additionally, the provision for the issuance of Government bonds to CLICO against the value of the real estate assets held by the company has not been completed, according to Smith.
However, the BIPA spokesman said he remained hopeful that the process would be completed by December 31 so policyholders could finally end their seven-year wait for a resolution.
Addressing the annual Domestic Financial Institutions conference Tuesday morning at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre Sinckler acknowledged that a number of people were concerned about the delay, and while he publicly apologized to the affected policyholders he was not about to shoulder accept blame for the situation.
“I too . . . am overly concerned about it, as are members of the Cabinet and the Government generally, particularly in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs,” said Sinckler.
“We, in December, took some decisions contingent on the court’s acceptance of the restructuring plan of CLICO. We put certain things in place, including financial resources, which we have done with the assistance of our Central Bank and others, and we have given full and complete support for that restructuring plan to proceed. And I can say that eight months on we are in fact disappointed that the pace at which that level of reform has transpired as not been at a satisfactory level,” said Sinckler.
He said as a result of that concern he recently met with the CLICO Judicial Manager as well as “the team working on it from the Government side” and expressed his concern.
“I can assure you that in a couple weeks’ time I will be issuing an appropriate statement on it that hopefully will be done jointly with the Judicial Managers to indicate the timeline which we have now determine that transition should be complete. And with it of course the resumption of the payment of the various awards of premiums and so on,” said Sinckler.
“So on behalf of whoever has been responsible for the inordinate delay in implementing it, I want to apologize. I can’t say me, because [neither me nor] my ministry is not involved in the day-to-day execution of it, but I want to say to those Barbadians who have been ill-affected by this process that we have not abandoned you and therefore that we should apologize for those delays, but rest assured that now that the Budget is out of the way I am going to see to it that that timetable is kept and that that transition is completed before the year is out and that process would move into the next phase of execution,” promised Sinckler. (MM)