Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is distancing himself and the Freundel Stuart administration from any delays associated with the restructuring and bailout plan of the collapsed British American Insurance Company (BAICO) Ltd. and Colonial Life Insurance Company Ltd. (CLICO).
In tabling an amendment to the National Insurance and Social Security Bill 2017 in Parliament Tuesday morning, Sinckler expressed disappointment over the length of time it was taking for the matter to come to a close.
Last December, High Court judge William Chandler approved the transfer agreement between CLICO and the two companies which would take over its business – New Life Investment Company Inc. (NLICO) and Resolution Life Insurance Limited (ResLife).
That same month, fellow judge Jacqueline Cornelius also signed an order approving the transfer scheme and the sale and purchase agreement presented in the judicial manager’s final report last year, regarding transfer of BAICO’s individual life and annuity policies to insurance giant Sagicor.
Both CLICO and its sister company BAICO ran into severe financial difficulties in 2009, with investors and policyholders feeling the squeeze since then, as they continue to await closure of the matter.
However, a visibly upset Sinckler said Tuesday: “I too, like anybody else, have my frustration as to why up to now, between the judicial manager, the court and whoever else is involved in the process at that level, that we cannot get these matters dispensed with.”
Sinckler lamented that when all was said and done it was close to $800 million that the Government of Barbados and taxpayers would have to underwrite to bail out the two companies.
He said Government had already agreed to the restructuring plans, as well as drafted legislation to facilitate them, while revealing that the $50 million loan from the Central Bank to help with CLICO bailout was yet to be used.
Government had also approved guarantee of close to $100 million to help with the restructuring and transfer of BAICO portfolios.
“I continue to urge and, in fact, I said clearly that I am not spending another cent of the taxpayers’ money or approving another cent of the taxpayers’ money to be spent until I see that this matter is resolved. Nobody ain’t getting paid another cent until these matters are dealt with,” an adamant Sinckler said.
“I agree yes, they are complicated [matters] and information cannot be found, and this has to be done, and the judge is on vacation. I have heard all of it. But I want to place on record it is not because of the fault of the Ministry of Finance or anybody in the Government that we have not yet gotten to the stage where these things can be executed,” he stressed.
Sinckler issued a word of warning to those holding up the process to “just get on with it and let the people get their money, get this thing resolved and let’s move on to something else”.
The under-pressure Minister of Finance said while he was not seeking to put the blame on anyone, Cabinet and Parliament had given their support for the bailout plans for which Government provided the necessary funds.
“I want to say and place it on record that it is not for [lack of] of trying and intervention and agreement by the Ministry of Finance or the Government of Barbados that anything in relation to those two bailout scenarios have been delayed. Everything they have asked me to do, I have done,” insisted Sinckler, while pointing out that the companies were still under judicial management and the “direction of the court”. [email protected]