Opposition members are calling for the government to urgently bring to the legislature a bill which would enable policy holders to get a portion of the BAICO settlement which they are entitled to as part of a regional deal.
A statement from the MCAP Opposition today said they were disgusted with the current government’s handling of the banking issues and the “careless attitude” to which the leader of government gave to national and regional matters.
In a terse release, the opposition stated “we are adamantly calling on Premier and Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Hon. Donaldson Romeo to immediately and without further delay place the Uniform Plan of Arrangement Bill (BAICO and CLICO) before the legislative assembly for enactment.
“The “Uniform Plan of Arrangement Bill” (BAICO and CLICO) is a Legislation intended to provide a framework to aide in the resolution of the insolvency of BAICO and CLICO by means of a Plan of Arrangement. The said plan of arrangement once enacted would provide the mechanism for local BAICO policy holders to receive a portion of their monies that were invested in the now defunct BAICO. This will take the form of equitable disbursements of funds to the policy holders stemming from a settlement sum reached between the OECS regional governments and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
“While we are not certain as to how long this Bill has been before the Government of Montserrat, we are however aware that the Plan of Arrangement is to be implemented in a uniform manner across the ECCU region and the Bahamas. Additionally, we are also aware that other regional governments such as Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada have already enacted the Bill.
“Further, the MCAP Opposition wishes to inform the nation that at the last meeting of the ECCU Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) held on February 12, 2016, held via Video Conference in which Premier Donaldson Romeo participated in, the council urged all regional Governments of the ECCU to pass the Uniform Plan of Arrangement Bill (BIACO and CLICO) by the end of March 2016.
“As an attentive opposition we have observed with great dismay that Premier Romeo has remained completely silent on this issue. This action by the Hon. Premier as it relates to this matter is appalling due to his knowledge that a number of local institutions and individuals have lost significant sums of monies in the BIACO/CLICO financial debacle.
“We are aware and have felt the squeeze that the fallout of BAICO and CLICO in 2009 have caused, and the great anxiety and hardship that was felt by the private sector, individual policy holders, as well as policy holders across the entire ECCU region.
“The CLICO/ BIACO financial debacle has been cited on numerous occasions as a contributing factor to the relatively slow financial and economic recovery in the ECCU. In this regard, the MCAP Opposition calls on Premier Donaldson Romeo and the PDM Administration to immediately and without delay bring to the Legislative Assembly the Uniform Plan of Arrangement Bill (BIACO and CLICO), in this regard the citizens and residents of Montserrat who have invested monies in the now defunct BIACO will gain some measure of relief.”
In a subsequent statement, the Opposition said Hon. Premier Romeo was manipulating the state run radio station ZJB to his own end. According to the release, ZJB Evening News reported that the premier said the bill would be presented at the next assembly.
The Opposition is therefore calling on the leader of government to answer the following statements:
1. How long has this bill been sitting on your desk?
2. What efforts have been taken before today’s press release to take this bill before the house?
3. Why hasn’t this bill had its first reading before the house as yet?
4. Why have you been so silent on matters related to this bill before today?
The MCAP Opposition put on record that “we have concerns with what appears to be the overabundance of influence the substantive Minister for information, Premier Romeo has on the dissemination of information without political bias. We therefore call upon Premier Romeo to release the shackles of fear from the journalist of the government owned radio station and afford them moral right to report unbiased with neither fear nor favor.”