It appears that the minister for finance is so rattled by my demands for transparency on the sale of Colonial Life Insurance Company, CLICO/BAT assets, that he hastily issued a media release to refute non-existent ghost statements.
In my budget response, I called for the minister to divulge “the extent of his involvement and the directions he gave for the sale of the (CLICO) portfolios”.
The minister has subsequently released a statement saying he denies giving “written directions to the Central Bank to sell the traditional portfolio of insurance policies of the CLICO”.
But neither I nor anyone else made that accusation. I said that it was the minister for finance [himself] who in March 2019, claimed that he was reviewing the recommendations by the Central Bank for the sale of the portfolios.
I said further: “The minister said that he was no rubber stamp and he was careful about what he does.” This means that the minister had deep consideration and involvement in this sale.
As such, I call on the minister to reveal the extent of his involvement and the directions he gave for the sale of the portfolios.
I call on the minister to answer publicly what matters he considered before he approved the sale of these billion-dollar portfolios as well as the factors he took into account when he said he protected the public interest.” (20191011 Opposition Leader’s response to Budget 2020)
Incredibly, the minister is now suggesting that he had no involvement whatsoever.
I also find it noteworthy that in his statement the minister did not try to deny that the Central Bank’s preferred bidder, Sagicor offered a quarter of a billion dollars less than Maritime.
I am again calling on the minister for finance to divulge the extent of his role and directions in the sale of the assets of CLICO/Bat. If there is nothing to hide, then there is no reason to avoid the question.
After a lackluster budget devoid of ideas or any meaningful policies, the minister for finance is attempting to put up a smoke screen to hide the failures of himself and this government. The days of this Peoples National Movement (PNM), government conducting the nation’s affairs in secrecy are over.
Kamla Persad Bissessar, MP, SC
Political Leader of the United National Congress (UNC)