Original “Letter” sent by June Fowler, President of BIPA, excerpts of which were included in the article in the Sunday Sun.
CLICO BACK TO SQUARE ONE
As I reflect on the last 10 years of the CLICO disaster which has devastated the lives of tens of thousands of policyholders and their families throughout the Caribbean region, I am deeply saddened by the fact that, as of the date of this letter, BIPA finds itself back in Court still fighting for a successful resolution for the policyholders in Barbados.
The collapse of CLICO in Barbados ten years ago was the result, not only of a lack of government department oversight and a failure to enforce the rules and regulations with which all insurance companies registered in Barbados must comply, but also the wilful mishandling of the pensioners’ savings and investments within that company.
In the years that followed, the incalculable levels of stress and anguish suffered by ordinary people, most of them pensioners, was made worse by the countless missed deadlines and empty promises to put right this wholly avoidable situation, and even further exacerbated by the endless silences regarding the progress of the plans to do so.
And yet worse still, the vast majority of these people who had purchased traditional insurance policies from one of the largest, and supposedly regulated entities in the Caribbean, were subjected to taunts of greed, and comments that “they should have known better”, for doing what we are all advised to do from a very young age; save for the future and especially for our retirement.
While awaiting a resolution to the debacle, hundreds of policyholders passed away without ever knowing if their families would receive a red cent of the money so carefully put aside for them over the years.
Hopes and prayers appeared to have finally been answered when at the beginning of 2018, after seven years of countless meetings, thousands of pages of Submissions, Affidavits, Draft Agreements and more than twenty Supreme Court Hearings, all of which were attended by BIPA, a Final Transfer Agreement of assets and policies from CLICO to New Life Investment Company and Resolution Life was executed, having been approved by the Cabinet of the then Government of Barbados, The Minister of Finance, The Solicitor General, The Central Bank, The Financial Services Commission, The Judicial Manager, oh yes, and BIPA.
As a result, pensioners, those with matured policies and those entitled to death benefits started to receive instalments to make up their arrears, and those with annuities started to receive their monthly pensions. Those who had Executive Flexible Pension Annuities, many in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, were to receive repayments of their principle investment, as promised, albeit spread over 10 years.
It seemed as if the calamitous CLICO debacle had finally come to an end for policyholders.
It is important at this stage to state that although the transferred policy portfolio was effectively underwritten by the Government of Barbados, the cash transfers involved were relatively small, as it was projected that the interest on the Sovereign Instruments issued as part of the Transfer Agreement would be sufficient to cover outgoing payments, together with the projected income generated by Resolution Life.
Thankfully, we had a vibrant Opposition in Parliament during the 10 years of the CLICO debacle which supported the Transfer Agreement both in principle and throughout its passage through Parliament.
But everything changed with the arrival of the new Government on May 24th, 2018, headed by The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, who was personally such a consistent and vocal supporter of the policyholders being made whole.
The disastrous state of the country’s economy and finances had been no secret in the years leading up to the 2018 election and thankfully the new Government under PM Mottley wasted not one moment in beginning to tackle the huge issues it faced.
The almost immediate suspension of external and internal debt had a calamitous effect on the value and intention of the instruments which were to underwrite Resolution Life and its policyholders. Pension arrears stopped, and the first of the payments to be spread over ten years for EFPA policyholders was indefinitely postponed, ostensibly only until the restructuring of internal debt had been completed.
BIPA is very much aware and supportive of this Government’s continuing efforts to reduce debt and bring about a level of growth to the economy. However it is very disturbing to me that this Administration which was so vocal and supportive of us in Opposition, and the Prime Minister herself, who has made numerous statements about making special arrangements to protect the most vulnerable, especially pensioners, and has indeed kept her word with the general population, seems to remain so strangely silent on the matter of the CLICO/Resolution Life policyholders.
It is with a heavy heart that we return to the Supreme Court yet again next week without any official indication about any “special arrangements to protect the most vulnerable, especially the pensioners” who, all those years ago put their trust in a government regulated insurance company, and as recently as last year, once more trusted in a Supreme Court Order to deliver them from their nightmare.
It is as if the CLICO Policyholders of Barbados are back to square one and having to relive the same nightmare a second time around.