Sunday, April 21, 2024

BLP COLUMN: A cold, cruel solution


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“My name is Mrs Pensioner X. I am 71 years old. After my husband died, I sold our house. I invested two $100 000 deposits left from the sale of the house with CLICO.
Nine months ago I asked CLICO to return at least one of the deposits. I have not heard anything from them and they have stopped paying the $565 interest on the deposit I asked back for.
I am not a rich woman and I do not wish to be a burden to my two children who have their own families to raise, but I do not know where to turn. The $25 000 offered by the Government cannot really help me and I fear that I will be dead and gone before I receive the rest of my money.”
This is the story of a Barbadian woman caught in the financial mire of CLICO. For the past year she has been on edge about her investments. How she will live if she cannot get her money back? Her darkest nightmares came to life last Friday when news broke of the Cabinet’s decision to offer investors $25 000 across the board as a first payment.
Life is already difficult for this woman. Her small Government pension is being eroded by a crippling rise in the cost of living, but she took solace from the fact that it would be tough for a couple more years until her investment matured and she could liquidate some of her assets before deciding how to reinvest.
As it stands now she has no hope of improving her current circumstances. This Government has offered her and hundreds more like her a cold and cruel solution providing no comfort to them whatsoever. A government bond for $25 000 at 2 per cent interest for five years will not meet her medical expenses now. It will not pay her supermarket bills now. It will not replace her old washing machine or take her on a holiday to visit her grandchildren. She will be 86 years old when she is able to recover the rest of her money if God spares her life.
There is no sense or sensitivity to Government’s proposal. It does not take account of people’s state or stage. How can you treat a 71-year-old widow the same as a 50-year-old who is still gainfully employed and who will be reaching retirement by the time he gets back the final sums on his investment?
According to Darcy Boyce, a man who does not to have to face a single constituent, Mrs Pensioner X should have known better. She should not have trusted CLICO’s offer. She should have done due diligence. Overnight, someone else’s greed and mismanagement made her a moral hazard.
We say a loud, unequivocal “NO” to this thinking. This is not the Bajan way. The BLP believes that greater flexibility exists in dealing with the hundreds who invested in CLICO.
• The BLP Column represents the views of the Barbados Labour Party.
This Government has lingered far too long on this matter and must not be surprised now that thousands of Bajans feel betrayed in favour of friends and known supporters of the Government; no more so than the members of th Barbados Association of Retired Persons, who, having invested as a group, may not get back one red cent.
Something is terribly wrong with this decision when a Government would seek to disadvantage innocent individuals at a time of their lives when they are most vulnerable.  It is cold, cruel and heartless. Pray for them and for the Cabinet that a human face will be put to solving this nightmare.
On this matter of urgent and definite national importance, our leader,  has indicated that the BLP stands ready to help find the best solution to avert this financial disaster befalling ordinary Barbadians who simply acted in good faith.
• Beresford Leon Padmore is a pseudonym for the Barbados Labour Party.


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