Mottley: Motion A Spur To Truth
March 7, 2009 1 Comment
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley yesterday lambasted Prime Minister David Thompson for waiting until she had filed a no-confidence motion against him to start “telling Barbadians the truth”.
She told the Lower Chamber, while piloting debate on the motion, that the Prime Minister had only finally admitted the facts at his televised Press conference on Sunday – two days after she filed the motion – and it begged the question as to whether the Barbadian public would have ever been given details of [CLICO’s] $93 million Statutory Fund deficit and other details if the motion had not been filed.
She said day-to-day management was required from the Minister of Finance and not a flurry of activity in response to a no-confidence motion.
Noting that in the last 36 days other countries in the Caribbean had acted with alacrity to deal with the CLICO crisis, Mottley said Thompson had only started to act in recent days.
“All of a sudden, in six days we hear what the Statutory Fund deficit is. We hear there may be a Barbadian entity willing to buy . . .
“We hear only this morning, on the morning of this motion, that the chairman of the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Ltd (ICBL) says the talks between ICBL and CLICO are only exploratory. . .
“All of a sudden this week he’s appearing busy only because of the filing of this motion,” said the Opposition Leader.
She added that Parliament was only addressing the issue yesterday for the first time since it broke on January 31, not because Government brought it there but because the Opposition did.
Adding that the Statutory Fund deficit was too serious a matter not to be addressed, she also asked why there was no word on British American Insurance, a subsidiary of CL Financial in Trinidad, since its policyholders were similarly affected.
“That matter is critical because last week news was given of a proposed lawsuit against British American Insurance for US$39 million that could cause that company to be totally insolvent in relation to 6 000 acres . . . bought by the CLICO financial group in Florida,” she revealed.
Mottley added that once the news had broken of CL Financial’s woes in Trinidad and Tobago, Thompson had said CL Financial had an imposing presence in the region and there were only three things he was worried about: the excessive transactions in Trinidad which increased contagion of risks, aggressively high interest rates, and very high debt that constrained the company from being able to sell its assets.
Noting that these underscored a broader culture of indiscipline compounded by high living, Mottley said such behaviour was mimicked in Barbados and led to an increasingly high deficit in the Statutory Fund.
She also pointed out that while the deficit was high before December 2007, it could have been supported in the past by a powerful parent company, CL Financial, but that was not the case now.
“That’s why we called since February 8 for the Minister of Finance to come clean and state the Statutory Fund deficit,” she said, adding that between February 8 and 21 nothing was revealed by Thompson, so she decided to tell the country of the $93 million deficit.
“He called me dangerous and reckless and tried to impugn another insurance company. Only last Sunday night did he finally admit what the facts were,” she stated.
“When we take the comments of the chairman of ICBL, when we take what we saw in the paper today, nothing short of a parliamentary oversight committee of both [houses of] Parliament is sufficient because I am suspicious and I am doubtful,” Mottley said.