Thursday, October 12, 2017
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
THE head of CLICO (Bahamas) creditors' committee yesterday expressed optimism the Government will fulfill its promises to policyholders, despite being three months late with the latest payout.
Basil Christie told Tribune Business that the committee understood "the tide is low" with respect to the Government's finances, and the Public Treasury is struggling to meet multiple demands for payment.
He spoke after the Government yesterday confirmed it will make the second of three payments to "qualified" policyholders, as of record at end-December 2016, on October 23 at CLICO (Bahamas) former Mount Royal Avenue offices. Payments in Freeport will be made on October 30.
Mr Christie said the October payment was supposed to have been made in July, under the arrangement worked out with the former Christie administration. The revised schedule raises questions about the timing of the third and final payment, which is due next month in November, but he expressed confidence this would occur as scheduled.
"We're satisfied that the Government is committed to the promises made by the previous administration, and the creditors committee are aware that the tide is low in terms of cash flow," Mr Christie told Tribune Business.
"We were promised a payment in July, and a payment in November. We received the first payment in April, and understand the payment next week is the July amount, with the third payment in November and the balance paid out in bonds next year.
"We're happy with that. We can appreciate there's a shortage of funds available, as the Government just paid out to the police and teachers, and there's a lot of demands for money. We're happy this payment is coming, and this administration is living up to the promises of the former government."
Mr Christie said the creditors committee was "not concerned" over the three-month delay to the promised July payout, which Tribune Business understands totals around $5.7 million. He expressed confidence that the Government would meet the November timeline for the third.
"There's no date set, but we're looking at the third week, Thanksgiving, for when it will take place," Mr Christie said. "We don't have any reason not to be hopeful that it will happen. The tide is low, but VAT monies are coming in, so we feel the monies will be at hand and payment made."
The CLICO (Bahamas) creditors committee chairman said he had $500,000 invested with the insolvent insurer when it collapsed in February 2009, representing the entire retirement income he received from his career at J. S. Johnson.
"I won't see anything close to that," Mr Christie announced of his recovery. "The rate being offered by CLICO was too attractive to ignore. I may have put all my eggs in one basket, but it's too late for that. I just learned to live on my NIB cheque, that's all. I learned to live on my pension. Life goes on. If we get something back, fine. If we don't, we'll live with it."
He added that the Government was not legally bound to compensate the CLICO (Bahamas) clients and policyholders, and said: "The cry is not one of desperation, but one of hope. We're hopeful we get most of our money back, and are happy with the idea of the balance being made available in bonds."
The Government, in confirming the October payout, said: "All qualified policyholders, with few exceptions, will receive up to $5,000 in respect to their outstanding claim balances. Policyholders who have not collected their cheques with respect to the April 2017 and earlier payout exercises can expect to receive a combined payment covering previous disbursements."
It added that any balances outstanding at end-2016, and not fully settled in the 2017 payments, "will be paid out over a period of four years in equal installments".
The Government also reiterated that CLICO (Bahamas) policyholders with in-force policies should continue making regular premium payments under their policy contracts, thus ensuring they continue to receive coverage and benefits.
However, it made no specific reference to either the November or bond payments, merely saying it "continues its efforts, in good faith, to bring relief to those affected by the closure of CLICO". The Christie administration had previously billed the three payouts as enough to payout 70 per cent or 1,595 claims from 'surrendered' policyholders.
The 30 per cent not fully paid out are to receive the promissory notes (bonds) carrying a 4.25 per cent interest rate, equivalent to Bahamian Prime, which will distribute the balance owed over a four-year period.