By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
HUNDREDS of CLICO (Bahamas) policyholders are expected to march to Parliament this morning to protest the government’s “lack of action” in assisting thousands of people who lost millions of dollars when the company collapsed.
Bishop Simeon Hall, senior pastor emeritus of New Covenant Baptist Church, who planned the peaceful protest, said he hopes Prime Minister Perry Christie lives up to his promise to policyholders.
He also called on Mr Christie as well as FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis to “right this wrong placed on the innocent, unsuspecting hard working Bahamians caught up in this financial nightmare.”
Bishop Hall said he invited the FNM as well the Democratic National Alliance to participate in the protest, but he is not certain if they will show up.
“We will be meeting at the (Post Office) for 9am and then we are going to march down to Parliament. Personally I am hoping Mr Christie will keep his promise, in fact I am calling on him to keep his promise and to bring some resolution to this unfortunate almost seven year debacle,” Bishop Hall said.
“We are hoping that he speaks about the issue in the House of Assembly and says something concrete about what the government is preparing to do. So several hundred of us, I expect will be marching. I mean, about 20,000 persons lost their money through no fault of their own, we cannot rejoice in what good Mr Christie has done until he does for these people. We spoke to two Cabinet ministers and they assured us that something is coming so we are optimistic.”
In March, Mr Christie said his administration has not abandoned its efforts to bring relief to the thousands of Bahamian policyholders who lost millions due to CLICO’s collapse.
He was prompted to speak on the issue after Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins, a PLP backbencher, raised the matter.
At the time Mr Christie said: “It (CLICO) is a matter that the government has of importance.
“It is important for me to say that in a nutshell that when this government came to power we did not have the money in place to deal with that issue because it will require money to bring a successful outcome. Secondly we have given considerable attention to what is a very complex issue involving international creditors in other jurisdictions.
“We believe that when we are coming to a certain period over the next few months we should be able to speak comprehensively about what we propose to do by way of assisting those persons who have suffered as a result.
“So the member raises this matter, it has not been withdrawn, it is a continuation of the process forward and we are working toward an outcome that we hope will be the best outcome for those affected in the country.”
The insolvent insurer’s policyholders and pensioners have been left in “financial limbo” since early 2009, unable to access their life savings and long-term investments until they are acquired by another underwriter.
According to Tribune Business, the transfer/acquisition of CLICO (Bahamas) policy portfolio will not happen until the government delivers on its long-promised $30 million guarantee to underwrite such a deal, as all potential buyers have said they will not conclude a purchase without it.