Walter Blackman – Actuary and Social Commentator
Dear Mr. Leacock,
I am a citizen and taxpayer of Barbados. I am also a pension actuary.
My fundamental responsibility, as an actuary, is to provide services skilfully and competently, to operate with integrity, and to uphold and protect the public trust. I believe your chosen profession has imposed similar responsibilities upon you. By definition, therefore, whenever the public trust is involved, your objectives and mine are always convergent.
For the past couple of years, I have watched in dismay as pieces of information doled out for public consumption revealed how a major life insurance company operating in Barbados was stripped of almost four hundred million dollars of its assets.
Barbadian observers have recoiled in sheer disgust and anger as evidence from reliable sources suggest that our laws were systematically and disdainfully trampled by a group of persons, some of whom masqueraded as executive managers of the ill-fated insurance company, and some of whom pretended to be statesmen.
The inability of the authorities in Trinidad AND Barbados to fully unravel the CL Financial mess and by extension CLICO in Barbados shines a bright light on an inadequate regional governance system. There is also the insight to be gained by Barbadians from a Trinidad jurisdiction where Transparency Legislation is enacted and operationalized. What have we learned that has forced to improve how pan-Caribbean institutions are regulated.
Originally posted on AfraRaymond.com:
The public is being told that the CL Financial bailout is being resolved, while at the same time the Minister of Finance & the Economy is withholding the fundamental information which any prudent person would need to make a decision. So, what is the secret?
Apart from the details I have been asking for, there are other questions which occur to me –
Directors’ Fees – What is the comparative level of Directors’ fees before and after the bailout on 30 January 2009? In particular, what are the fees & expenses payable to CL Financial Directors? Have those increased? If so, to what level and on what rationale?
Related Party dealings – We were told that one of the main causes of the CL Financial collapse was excessive related-party transactions. Has that pattern of dealings has really changed? What are the contracts between the group and companies in which Directors hold…
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Canada Loyal Financial reported to be coming to rescue CLICO
There was a report in the local press on the weekend that Canada Loyal Financial is interested in bailing out CLICO. The policyholders have been emitting noises of quiet optimism since the announcement. Some of us however are alarmed a foreigner stands to own a significant acreage of our lands. If Canada Loyal Financial is able to acquire CLICO it makes a mockery of the government stated claim that it bought the old Heywoods property was in the national interest. At this point we can only speculate on the Nation newspaper report.
Who is Canada Loyal Financial?
Originally posted on AfraRaymond.com:
Today is the 30th of January 2014: five years since the State bailout of CL Financial was announced to a shocked nation and region. It is necessary to mark this moment in time with solid facts and stern meditation.
The Carnival season is upon us, so J’ouvert is near the front of my thoughts. J’ouvert is simple, yet tremendous, because of the experience of passing from night into daylight and of course those around you becoming clearer as the light overcomes the darkness. For me, the defining feature of Jouvert is the terrifying portrayals of ‘Devil mas‘ in its various forms – ugly and dirty, covered with mud, oil or paint; real noisy, beating pitch-oil tins and such; forceful, in demanding payment from you before you could pass. You have to pay the Devil to go away. Pay the Devil, so he could leave without dirtying you up.
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Fruendel Stuart (r) Owen Arthur (l) Photo: Nation Newspaper
Noam Chomsky opines that “it is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies”. It begs the question do we have intellectuals in Barbados? Who are they? BU adds another question to the pile – is there morality in local politics?
During the last general election Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart was portrayed as a man of integrity when compared to Owen Arthur. Whether one agrees who won the integrity vote Stuart did not object to the comparison. One year later BU believes Stuart has fallen short of being a man of integrity. Before the political cackle begins it is instructive to lookup the definition of integrity, “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness”. Did Prime Minister Stuart and his Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite now appointed admit that they witnessed unsavoury (illegal) events during election day? The Prime Minister promised he would check every election law on the books and bring the matter to parliament to prevent recurrence and in the process finger the culprits.
On another front BU is reliably informed that the government had been in discussion with the NUPW to send home workers for several weeks before the recent announcement. One must reasonably conclude that Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart – who is the minister responsible for the civil service had to be aware of the decision to retrench workers a long time before it was announced. Remember when the SmartStream system was blamed by Stuart as the reason why temporary workers were not paid? We subsequently found out that temporary workers are not registered on this system for payroll. The decision to send home workers was not arrived at overnight. During the time the discussions were being held the Prime Minister suggested there was a computer glitch when many public officers complained about not being paid. We hesitate to call Prime Minister Stuart a liar BUT he has been less than transparent about government’s position on the tenure of public servants.
When judged against the harsh background of adversarial politics, only two prime ministers of Barbados (who led the country for 7 years or more) can lay claim to being able to escape the clutches of the IMF for the entire period of their rule – Errol Barrow and Owen Arthur.
Say whatever you will, it is an undeniable fact that Barrow and Arthur were able to utilize whatever resources they had available at their disposal without plunging the Barbadian economy into disequilibrium. This achievement in itself represents a public demonstration of their political and economic skills. One was from the DLP, and the other is from the BLP, but we must commend and applaud both of them equally for distinguishing themselves in this regard.
Borrowing, taxation, and easily accessible NIS funds were the main resources available to Barrow, Arthur, and all Ministers of Finance. Naturally these resources varied in amount as administrations came and went.
By the time the David Thompson administration assumed office in early 2008, the world had changed drastically. Volatility and uncertainty had become so widespread that the Governor of the Central Bank informed and warned all Barbadians that the macroeconomic models used to analyze and predict outcomes under the “old” economic order, were no longer applicable.
Court Order: Professional Services Inc AND CIBC FICB