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Time to take action

Minister Chris Sinckler speaking with officials at the launch.

Disappointed with the lack of a broad settlement framework at the regional level to tackle the CLICO/British American Insurance Company Limited fallout, Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, is proposing to hold an urgent meeting in Barbados next month with ministers of finance, their senior representatives and technical staff, to broker an agreement by year end.

He made this disclosure last night during the official launch of Guardian Life of the Caribbean and COB Financial Services Incorporated Life Insurance Agency at Hilton Barbados.

Sinckler said the meeting would allow the judicial managers to “return to the respective courts to update [them] that a solution for an orderly resolution has been reached even as the detailed dynamics of such an agreement are hammered out”.

He admitted that he, like thousands of policy holders, was “growing a little anxious” about the length of time it was taking before a resolution was found despite the appointment of a judicial manager in Barbados and in a few other jurisdictions throughout the region.

The judicial managers, Sinckler said, had put forward a solution to the governments which Barbados had not only endorsed, but believed, if given the chance, could work with “the appropriate negotiated adjustments”.

“We laid this before the regional finance ministers at our meeting in July and I am aware that the judicial managers have canvassed at the technical level, [to get] the views and opinions of our regional colleagues on this proposal. The response thus far, I am advised, has been mixed.

“I cannot hide the fact that I am disappointed that we have not been able to agree to a broad settlement framework even as work continues on the finer details,” he emphasised.

Cognisant that patience was running out over the pace and progress with the settlement of CLICO and BAICO matters, Sinckler said this was as a result of the “sheer magnitude and complexity of the problem”.

He added: “It is sometimes easily forgotten that not only are we dealing with problems where cost/liabilities run into hundreds of millions of dollars, but which cut across several different jurisdictions, all with separate regulators, different judicial managers and with assets lodged and dispersed across a very wide field.”

The minister said the situation was no more sobering on account of the depressed economic environment in which Caribbean governments continued to grapple with high debt, deficit challenges and constrained fiscal spaces.

“It is therefore, incumbent on all of us involved not only to be patient, as hard as that is for policy holders and investors [but] to be equally circumspect as to the quality of solution which it negotiated and forged in the end,” Sinckler stressed.

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