Thursday, April 25, 2024

Rejecting the path of greed


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THE REVELATIONS that have come out of the Deloitte Canada forensic audit into CLICO International Life Insurance Ltd (CIL) confirm that there is something rotten – putrid – at the very core of our Barbadian society!
How does Leroy Parris, the executive chairman of CIL and CLICO Holdings, establish a separate private company with himself and another senior CIL executive officer as directors, and then proceed to enter into a so-called “employment contract”
with CLICO Holdings under which he becomes entitled to a whopping gratuity payment of $10 million from the coffers of CLICO?
How was it possible for the law firm of former Prime Minister David Thompson to submit an invoice to CIL claiming legal fees of $3.3 million; to have CIL pay Thompson’s firm the said $3.3 million on the basis of Leroy Parris’ approval of the invoice; and then for us to discover that the said $3.3 million was, in truth and fact, a payment of “gratuity” to Parris?
In essence, how was it possible for a company that held itself out as a trustee and guardian of the life insurance and pension resources of hard working Barbadians to come to be treated as a “cash cow” that financed millionaire life-styles for a favoured few?
All of these things are truly mind-boggling; but they are not unprecedented! Indeed, they are no more mind-boggling than the $29 000 per month in basic salary that a senior executive officer at LIME receives, in addition to all of his other “perks”.
But, who pays for these obscene salaries and “perks”? Well, in the case of CLICO it was the money of thousands of hard working Barbadians that ultimately financed the private corporate jet and the other perks – hard earned money that these unfortunate Barbadian investors are now in danger of totally losing.
In the case of LIME, it is ultimately us, the tens of thousands of rate-paying Barbadian telephone subscribers who are financing the senior executive’s $29 000 per month salary! And we can go on and on making the same essential point in relation to several other companies.
Why – pray tell – should the Leroy Parrises of Barbados earn 70 times the salary of the minimum wage earner? Do they perform 70 times the work and make 70 times the contribution to the society? Clearly the answer is a resounding “No!”
When Barbados became an independent nation in 1966, we negotiated a new Constitution or Supreme Law for our nation in which we declared as follows:
“Now, therefore, the people of Barbados . . . resolve that the operation of the economic system shall promote the general welfare by the equitable distribution of the material resources of the community . . . .”
Why and when did we lose sight of this noble social goal? Let us use the CLICO scandal as a national wake-up call!
Our Barbados does not have to be a nation that is scarred by injustice, gross inequality and corruption. The way of ugly, divisive, exploitative capitalism need not be our way.
Let us strive for something better!
• The PEP column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment Party. Email


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