Pensioners and other holders of Government paper flocked to the Courtney Blackman Grande Salle of the Central Bank today to exchange their old debt instruments for new ones.
The exercise, which forms part of Government’s debt restructuring programme, saw some 130 investors responding during the seven-hour period available, well beyond the number expected by the Central Bank.
Those speaking to Barbados TODAY after emerging from the debt exchange forum expressed the common view that even if they wanted to reject the new investment offer, they had no choice but to accept.
Another major concern coming to light was the drastic cut in interest which pensioners were now being offered on their debentures and treasury notes and the 15-year wait for final payment.
“I now have to reorder my life. I depended on that interest to life. Now it’s nothing,” said one woman, who did not want to be identified.
Another pensioner, who also preferred to remain anonymous, told Barbados TODAY the $250 quarterly interest payment she will not get cannot cover her television bill of more than $100 and her water bill of over $80 per month.
“The next 15 years I will be 80-something. So I now have to make my [new] investments a joint one with my son,” she lamented, adding that if she were to reject the new offer she would not get anything.
Desmond Crichlow also told Barbados TODAY that even though the debt exchange forum was well organized, the information received meant that the offer was a done deal, not open to negotiations or a carve-out.
“It was organized quite well in there where they have a video which gives you all the information you should need . . . and then you can sign the offer the same time if you wish or you can go and come back. What is happening in there is that they have a lot of counsellors who would give you advice; if you didn’t understand [the offer] after having watched the video,” said Crichlow, adding that there are questions people were asking which are not on the handout.
“I don’t think the way the Government has it structured that there is much of a good choice other than signing up. They tell you fairly clearly that this is the best way to go because outside of this, you might find that the Government will run into trouble if they don’t get the 75 per cent of the people they want and they will have to move to a different option which may be more onerous than what they are now proposing,” the pensioner said, adding that based on what he had heard fellow pensioners saying, they all will join him in signing up.
Dr George Maynard, who retired as a medical doctor, travelled with his debentures to the “well-organized and thorough event” though it took him over two hours to complete his process.
“I have been buying Government debentures for nearly 50 years. I have quite extensive investments, that why mine took so long,” Dr Maynard said.
Consultant to the Employment Rights Tribunal, Winston Chase, another pensioner who turned up at the Central Bank complex today, had no complaints about the exchange offer.
“I understand the offer and if it is for the interest of the country, I think this would be the best decision you should take,” Chase declared.
Another pensioner who did not want to be identified was also in support of the exchange.
“We all in this together. If you say you are not accepting, they have said in the document it would be unfair to everybody else . . . you say you want them to pay you and they don’t pay anybody else, so you could as well go with it,” he said.
Retired partner in the accounting firm PriceWaterHouseCoopers, Joyce Dear, praised the counsellors and advisors who made sure she understood what the offer contained.
“There were still things I didn’t quite understand [even after reading the document thoroughly]. You go in there and there is a video and you listen to it…and even a question that I had it didn’t answer that, so I went and had an interview . . . a nice young lady, she explained the questions that I had,” Dear told Barbados TODAY.
The debt exchange forum continues daily from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. until Saturday.