EDITORIAL: CLICO case going on for too long

Nation News Editorial:  http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/85476/editorial-clico

HOW LONG IS too long when thousands face unnecessary pain and hardship? For a frank and honest answer to this question just ask the many anxious and nervous policyholders and investors of the failed CLICO/BAICO insurance companies.

To say that these long-suffering policyholders would be frustrated and angry would be an understatement. They may reasonably believe that mock-sport is being made of them.

The fundamental questions any reasonable person would ask is why it has taken so long to bring these matters to a satisfactory conclusion and who stands to gain and to lose. It is certainly annoying that whenever it appears as if a workable solution is at hand, something pops up ensuring there is no endgame.

The judicial managers for both BAICO and CLICO Barbados have been on the job for a long time, even if it is a complex undertaking. The months have turned into years, for it was in September six years ago that BAICO was placed in judicial management of KPMG, and CLICO less than a year later under Deloitte Consulting.

The action was taken under Section 57 of the Insurance Act on the grounds that the companies were incapable of paying liabilities due to policyholders, given the inadequacy of their assets to satisfy both creditors and policyholders.

What is frustrating to policyholders is that the CLICO plan, approved since December 2015 by Justice William Chandler following months of deliberation, is yet to show signs of being a reality.

Time does indeed become money and when a decision is finally agreed and implemented the cost would have risen above the over $400 million needed to pump into any rescue plan.

This is a burden to the Government, the taxpayers and the same policyholders and investors. It also leaves many trusting policyholders who faithfully continue to pay their premiums wondering whether it will be all for nothing.

There is undoubtedly untold hardship being faced by policyholders and their families and the longer this process takes the greater will be the anger and downright mistrust.

Many people have been reduced to virtual poverty and a growing number will question who stands to gain from this drawn-out process. Investors, including retired employees, are eager to draw on their anticipated benefits.

What makes the entire debacle particularly disgusting is the lack of regular updates by the judicial managers to keep an eager public aware of what is happening.

The people of Barbados deserve to be kept informed on what is a very public matter. Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler needs to speak to the public.