By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A prominent CLICO (Bahamas) policyholder remains hopeful that the government’s resolution to the seven-year long debacle will be met next month notwithstanding the recent impact Hurricane Matthew has had on the country.
Bishop Simeon Hall, pastor emeritus of New Covenant Baptist Church, has repeatedly expressed optimism that affected policyholders would see the “light at the end of the tunnel” after they lost their life savings as a result of the 2009 collapse of the company.
In a statement yesterday, he called on the government to follow through.
“A progressive government must find the financial wherewithal and political will to finally resolve the CLICO debacle, in spite of the pressing and ongoing challenges the country now faces, most recently compounded by the devastating and costly passage of Hurricane Matthew,” Bishop Hall said.
“Thousands of CLICO policyholders are now facing ‘double trouble’ with the aftermath of the hurricane. Policyholders were advised of another promise that final payments will be made in November 2016. We pray to God that this latest commitment would be met,” he added.
In March, Prime Minister Perry Christie promised that a collective $16m cash payout would be issued to victims of the CLICO situation before the end of that month.
In announcing the payout plan during the mid-year budget debate, Mr Christie said the insolvent insurer’s executive flexible premium annuity (EPPA) holders, and surrendered pension policies, would receive a cash payment capped at $10,000.
Anything owed above that sum would be paid off via the issuance to former clients of seven-year promissory notes (government bonds), which will provide them with quarterly insurance payments at the prime rate (4.75 per cent).
Vaughn Culmer, CLICO (Bahamas) operations manager, told The Tribune in April that the issuance of government bonds would “hopefully” take place “within the next few months.”
The payout process began in March as promised, with some policyholders recovering at least some of their life savings and long-term investments, all of which were lost when the life and health insurer collapsed into insolvency.
However, some policyholders claimed they hadn’t heard anything about the issuance of the government bonds. Additionally, some policyholders reportedly still hadn’t recovered any lost funds.
Last month, the government announced that policyholders will receive their compensatory government bonds by mid-November plus accrued interest, with the government primed to “earmark” over $40 million to facilitate the payout process.
However, this would happen once the insurance license for Coral Insurance Company, the government’s special purpose vehicle (SPV) for this process, is processed and completed, which is expected to be no later than the second week in November.