COVID-19 Exposes Food First Policy


Covid-19 (Coronavirus) was classified by the World Health Organization this week as a pandemic. The aggressive infection rate has forced unprecedented decisions, Italy is on ‘lock down’, President Trump has issued a travel ban on traffic originating in Europe… cancellations of major sporting events. Although Barbados has not reported its first case up to the time of updating the blog, neighbouring English speaking countries have not been so ‘lucky’.

It seems now is a perfect time to place on the agenda the discussion about FOOD SECURITY or to borrow from the late Carmeta Fraser’s lexicon, FOOD FIRST. From the inception of Barbados Underground in 2007 we have had vigorous debate about the need to integrate food production into a service based economy. To date it has been given lip service by successive governments.

We have been producing a type of economist and academic at Cave Hill who are singularly of the view that if it is cheaper to import food, it is better to concentrate on earning forex to procure our food. It is only when we have disruption to global supply chains that we are stunned into realizing such an approach is not sustainable in a world locked at the hip. The technocrats refer to it as globalization. What makes the situation interesting with the Coronavirus is that CHINA, one of the world’s supplier of food and other commodities, is the main source of the disruption.

In today’s press there is an advertisement of former CLICO lands for lease by the takeover company. It will hammer home the realization again that we have available land space to help ourselves to produce food.

Clico_LandsSome will argue Barbados will never be self sufficient in food production – cost of production is too high, however, there is a level of comfort knowing that a country is helping itself to feed its population.  We subsidize tourist travel to Barbados to the tune of millions. There is a comfort knowing that there is a level of local food production to mitigate when disruption to world production is negatively impacted.  The current Minister of Agriculture and his predecessors can pontificate about policy as much as they want, the proof is always in the eating and as often as the blogmaster scans the Central Bank reports, there has been no measurable increase in the output numbers in the agriculture sector since Adam was a lad. The blogmaster accepts that Agrofest is a good show to take the family for the annual lime of the year.

As an old BU family member use to post, ‘are we there yet‘?

Will we allow another crisis to escape us?

Now is a time for the government to shape relevant policy and for the private sector to execute on the policy and change the way we are to solve our problems.

To borrow from another BU commenter, ‘Will our leaders please stand up‘?



Yellow Journalism Alive at Fontabelle

In the social media world it is referred to as click bait, not sure of the equivalent in the dead tree world.

A few weeks ago the BU blogmaster was critical of the Sunday Sun editor for offending the sensibilities of many Bajans by inserting a picture of Peter Wickam and partner on the front page. The objective of report was to share the news a prominent local person had taken a husband? There was reference to a marriage to further irritate.

Today the Sunday Editor repeated poor judgment by introducing as front page news a disagreement between late Prime Minister David Thompson’s wife Mara and her mother in law Margaret Knight. It seems like a story traditional media should have left for the blogs to rumble with. Truth be told circulation is flagging and money makes the world go around.

A more worthy angle would have been to inquire from Mara Thompson when her husband’s will was probated and to confirm if she is the beneficiary of tens of millions largely derived from her late husband’s servicing of the CLICO account. This is a matter of national import given the hundreds of CLICO policyholders poorer for purchasing CLICO product. Instead the Sunday Sun preferred to share the news that Mara Thompson turned her back on the 88 year old mother in law by refusing to pay her rent.

What would the late David Thompson say if he were alive to see his mother spurned by Mara?

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The Grenville Phillips Column – Gluttons for Punishment

About ten years ago, CLICO was unable to meet its obligations to its over 20,000 policy-holders.  Fortunately, CLICO had assets which could be sold and equitably distributed to policy-holders.  They could then sue the government for any short-fall for its failure to properly regulate the company.  That was the advice given to policy-holders, but they rejected it and chose to trust a Government-managed process that tied-up the CLICO assets in court.

Since the Government failed to properly regulate CLICO, it seems reasonable that they should bear some liability for any policy-holder losses.  However, it was clearly foreseen that the Government, who failed to properly regulate CLICO, and failed to properly manage public services, would never magically obtain the managerial competence to equitably fix the CLICO mess.  But the policy-holders believed otherwise.

A decade ago, all policy-holders should have been instructed to stop making any further payments to the failed company, and a liquidator should have been appointed to identify, sell, and equitably distribute CLICO’s assets in Barbados.  Instead, they trusted the Government to represent their interests, and were directed to do something that should have alerted them that something was clearly not in their best interests – keep making payments to a failed company.

The policy holders should have known that any Government managed process would be extremely inefficient, costly and badly managed.  It was foreseen that most policy-holders would be given an unfavourable like-it-or-lump-it solution.  They were warned that they would be bled dry by the process that they were asked to trust.  But they could not be dissuaded.

After an unnecessarily inefficient 10-year delay, the policy-holders finally regained control of the CLICO assets.  However, rather than seize the opportunity to sell the assets and equitably share the revenues, the policy-holders once again inexplicably trusted the Government to represent their interests.

In exchange for the policy-holders’ child-like misplaced trust in them, the Government has decided to take away all rights that policy-holders have to the valuable CLICO assets, and give many of them nothing in return.  Policy-holders are once again allowing themselves to be tricked.

The Government is cleverly reducing the amount that it will pay for the CLICO assets, by forcing trusting policy-holders to pay the Government for taking away their rights to them.  The Government did this by dictating that any policy-holder who did not pay their premiums after the company failed, would have those unpaid premiums deduced from what was owed.

To put this in perspective, if a person’s monthly premium was $200, and they had not paid their premiums to the failed company for the past 10 years, then the Government will force that person to pay a penalty of $24,000.  If the policy-holders’ investment in the CLICO assets is less than $24,000, then the policy-holder gives up their right to their stake of the CLICO assets in exchange for nothing – they are effectively disqualified.

Over the past decade, politicians have tried to shame CLICO policy holders for investing in a company that the government was responsible for regulating.  Now they have the gall to penalise or disqualify policy-holders who stopped paying premiums to a failed company.  If the CLICO assets had been liquidated ten years earlier as recommended, no policy-holder would have been penalised.

The policy-holders have clearly been frustrated.  They should have the same right to the CLICO assets today that they had 10 years ago.  The assets were protected by the courts and have not gone anywhere.  They are finally available to policy-holders.  To disqualify policy-holders from their stake in the CLICO assets, on the basis of not continuing to pay premiums to a failed company for the past decade, is unconscionable,

The policy owners are once again advised to maintain control of their right to CLICO’s assets, and to have them sold and equitably distributed.  They can then decide whether they wish to pursue the Government in the courts for any short-fall due to Government’s failure to properly regulate the company.

Regrettably, their reaction to this advice is foreseen.  We have all watched in dismay as over 20,000 CLICO policy-holders allowed the Government to parade them around with derision for the past decade.  They are showing no signs that they have finally had enough.  CLICO policy-holders are, more than the rest of us, gluttons for punishment.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at


The following extracted from the Barbados Investors & Policyholders Facebook page – David, Barbados Underground

Barbados Investors & Policyholders Alliance

5 hrsBIPA is aware of the cessation of premium payments to ResLife with immediate effect and understands that as the Government of Barbados is pushing ahead with its mandate to dissolve the ResLife operations, then this first step in the process is a necessary one.However, BIPA continues to be in communication with the Boards of ResLife and NLICO to make sure that BIPA is kept informed of developments as we wish to avoid any more unpleasant surprises causing shock and awe to policyholders, especially our most vulnerable policyholders; the elderly. Their lives have already been disrupted and devastated by this injustice and they simply cannot take any more grief.

BIPA has submitted over 60 questions anticipating those which are likely to be asked by policyholders and will keep its members informed as responses to those questions and other details come to hand.
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CLICO Bailout NOT Forgotten

Posted to Afra Raymond’s website

On Friday 30th January 2009, the CL Financial (CLF) bailout started, so today – 30th January 2019 – is the ten-year anniversary of that fateful decision to commit Public Money to bailout the Caribbean’s largest conglomerate. The companies which were to be bailed-out were: CL Financial Ltd (CLF); Colonial Life Insurance Company Ltd (CLICO); Caribbean Money Market Brokers Ltd (CMMB); Clico Investment Bank (CIB) and British American Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd (BAICO).

The mismanagement of this bailout has exceeded any mismanagement which led to the collapse of CLF, that is my view.

Follow full text on Afra Raymond’s website.

Government Suspends Payments to Former CLICO EFPA Policyholders

The decision by the government of Barbados to default on the the New Life Investment Preservation Bond should not have come as a surprise to those with a finger on the pulse of current affairs. Prime Minister Mia Mottley indicated on winning the government that with the country in debt 15 billion dollars with a GDP of 171%- third highest in the world-  a priority of her administration is to restructure/reprofile the debt. The country was given notice that in government’s Phase I and II economic program to be rolled out in the coming weeks government guarantee of all bond issues will be on the table for review.

The decision to suspend payment to former CLICO Executive Flexible Premium Annuity (EFPA) policyholders will be a blow after the matter was ensnared in litigation for almost a decade. Many of the policyholders are retirees – those not dead – and the investment in the EFPA represents savings to support living in the golden years.  The blogmaster will make bold to suggest there was political interference in the process. The symbiotic relationship between the DLP and CLICO brands loom large.

The BU intelligentsia recently engaged in a sidebar conversation – an example of a comment, with Actuary Walter Blackman where the the viability of New Life Investment Company (NLICO)– the parent company of New Life Investment Company- was questioned if there is no premium income. The conclusion is that to maintain payment of pension and other financial commitments this is just another state owned company that will be sucking the very sore nipples.

To discuss insurance related matters the role of the newly minted Board of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to be chaired by Avinash Persaud must play an important role. Barbados Underground posted in 2017 on a report that dropped off the back of a truck prepared by the IMF which reviewed the robustness of the operations of the Financial Services Commission (FSC)- specifically as it pertains to the supervision of Sagicor.

Middleclass Caught Between the FSC and Sagicor

A report prepared by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that reviewed the robustness of the operations of the Financial Services Commission (FSC)- specifically as it pertains to the supervision of Sagicor-  has triggered alarm bells in the local and regional financial market.   Although there is no evidence based on any public reporting Sagicor is not a well run company, the

Read more


The blogmaster over the years can measure the efficiency and culture of most organizations by the relevance and ‘vibrancy’ of its website.   A review of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) shows there is an opportunity to improve content management. Have a view of the Management Team Page, the Manager Insurance position is vacant? Surely not! Have a look of Resolution Life Assurance page, the decision to suspend annuity payments is still to be updated to the News & Updates page.

How difficult is it to update a page? Some will suggest the blogmaster is being captious.

In all seriousness.

What the last decade of DLP government has taught us is that a fractious contentious climate is not conducive to moving the country forward. It does not matter if the policy prescriptions of the former government were correct, if the leadership – both political and NGO –  is unable to persuade the majority of the population to get on board, to borrow from the lexicon of the street people, the dog dead. We can continue down the path of the last lost decade or we can dig deep, suppress politically partisan and uneducated position for the good of country.

The country is broke.




Walter the Actuary a BLACK man | Charles the Actuary a White man

[Barbados Underground] Walter Blackman responded to BU commenter TheOGazerts on the observation that Barbadians are engaged in the Charles Herbert, a rich Bajan Actuary that contrast starkly with Walter, a Bajan Actuary who is Black and forced to return to the USA to make a living – David, blogmaster


TheOGazerts, Barbados, our idyllic island home, will continue to vomit up its shocking contrasts.

It is only after listening to people on BU describing how “bright” a certain white man is to have completed a degree in actuarial science, then to have gone on to complete the tough actuarial professional exams, then to have gone on to develop a multi-million dollar actuarial company in Barbados, that I found myself making some comparisons. We both demonstrated at the university and professional exams level that we possess the intellectual capacity needed to become fully qualified pension actuaries. However, the demonstration of brain power is where the similarity abruptly ends.



Now for the contrast. He is a bright, rich, white man. I am simply a black man.


In Barbados, this is a huge, huge deal and it naturally and invariably translates into a situation where a universe of opportunities are opened to him, whilst all doors are closed to me.

So whereas someone can boast on this white man’s behalf, that he made millions from selling an actuarial company which he developed in Barbados (not sure if this is correct), I am left to inform BU readers that I was awarded an OAS Fellowship to study actuarial science at the masters degree level with the expressed intention of providing actuarial services to the National Insurance Scheme of Barbados. Alas, I completed my studies but, on my return to Barbados, was never allowed to work at the NIS. I applied for the vacant position of Supervisor of Insurance, which was advertised by the Erskine Sandiford administration. After a series of interviews, the final two candidates were Walter Blackman and Joycelyn Hinds. I attended the final interview and have heard nothing since. I discovered later that Wismar Greaves was placed in the post. Could it be that this was the point at which CLICO was being prepared for its “great” journey?


Attempts to work at ICB amounted to a mere exercise in futility.

More recently, the Government of Barbados, for the first time, advertised the position of CEO of the Financial Services Commission. I knew something was afoot so I made sure that I applied. As expected, I never even got an acknowledgement. However, Sir Frank Alleyne told Barbadians that the FSC had searched the whole world and could find no one but Mr, Randy Graham to fill the position.


What has allowed me to remain mentally strong and steadfast is my firm belief that no one selected Walter Blackman to “unfair” or destroy. This “square pegs in round holes” problem is systemic and thousands of progressive-minded Barbadians, if given the chance, can easily recount incidents of being similarly “unfaired” and discriminated against.

There is some purpose to this madness.

Back in the early to mid-1980’s, a grand designer decided to “corner” and control government’s financial services market. Individuals were handpicked to head major government revenue agencies and to follow certain career tracks (e.g. Supervisor of Insurance, NIS dept, PS/Director of Finance).


For example, Sabina Walcott was made Commissioner of Inland revenue. Grantley Smith was Director of NIS, before moving on to the PS/Director of Finance role. William Layne was Financial Controller of NIS, Supervisor of Insurance, and then PS/Director of Finance. Ian Carrington was Supervisor of Insurance, Director of NIS, and has now moved into a PS/Director of finance role.


Any person or agency wishing to investigate the nature and state of the government’s finances from 1985-2015 is well-advised to start by questioning and interviewing these four individuals along with Erskine Griffith, a former PS/Director of finance, who was ultimately “rewarded” with a minister of agriculture’s salary. These persons were in the best position to know how come government’s financial rules could be violated so easily, and how come the problems raised by the Auditor General for so long could be so contemptuously disregarded with no repercussions or consequences.




With respect to the FSC, every Barbadian watched in disbelief as the organization did little or nothing to protect the rights and benefits of CLICO’s policyholders, or to punish the guilty persons responsible for the scandalous raid on the insurance company. However, when it was discovered that the Judicial Manager was about to publish a report which proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that David Thompson initiated the steps which led to the CLICO raid, the FSC sprang into action and tried to block the publication of the report. Was this the reason why the nephew of David Thompson was put in the CEO post? Was it sheer coincidence that he left the post after all attempts to block the publication of the JM report failed?



We castigate, shun, and in some cases, jail uneducated black Barbadians for their acts of ignorance. At the other extreme, we block well-educated black Barbadians.from taking up positions commensurate with their experience and training, and from participating meaningfully in public life. Participation in public life is now being characterized by corruption, malfeasance, and deceit. Instinct tells me that a social backlash cannot be very far away…

CL Financial Bailout – filling the gaps, Part II

clf-bailout2This article provides more details of the games being played in this Information War. It seems that the concealment of the details of the CL Financial bailout is of high importance.

First item is this acknowledgment from the PS in the Ministry of Finance which would be funny, if this entire matter were not so very serious – Read full article at

CL Financial Bailout – filling the gaps

Afra Raymond, Citizen Advocate

Citizen Advocate Afra Raymond continues his relentless pursuit for transparency in the CL Financial debacle which unfolded in 2007/2008 and shocked the volatile economies across the Caribbean.

The blogmaster uses the opportunity to remind the newly elected government of Barbados that there was a hint of a promise to pursue principals involved in the local subsidiary governed under the legal entity CLICO Holdings Limited (CHL). We have not forgotten the catastrophic regulatory failure, poor governance and management incompetence that led to untold suffering for some Barbadians and unwanted stress on the pockets of taxpayers.

David, blogmaster

This article sets out my ongoing search for all the details of all the payments made under the CL Financial bailout. That includes my recently-concluded litigation and my new requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Consent Order of 24th January 2018 required the Ministry of Finance to provide these details –

  1. Any unaudited financial statements of CL Financial Limited for the years 2008-2011 in the possession of the Ministry of Finance which were relied upon to prepare the affidavits of Minister Winston Dookeran filed on 3 April, 2012 in High Court proceedings CV 2011-01234, Percy Farrell and Others v Clico and others.
  2. Any list of the creditors of CL Financial existing at the date of the request in the possession of the Ministry of Finance, the names of the EFPA holders of Clico, the dates of the repayment of EFPA holders of Clico and the identities of those whose investments have been repaid.

Read full ArticleCL Financial Bailout – filing the gaps

Walter Blackman’s Last Post Before the General Election About CLICO, Corruption by Politicians and the Bullseye on Ryan Straughn’s Back

The following is a response to the blogmaster’s observation posted on the  April 26, 2018 11:30 PM directed at Walter Blackman: – “What will be interesting in the days and few weeks ahead is how the various political parties craft their messages to the public”.

If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop

     –The Rolling Stones


In my humble opinion, pragmatic though ye maybe, you are thinking “old school”.

I find it more interesting to wait and see how the various political parties craft their response to the messages that have been sent by the public.

Please forgive me for being prolix, but I will offer three low-hanging examples to give you an example of how I am thinking.

Firstly, from the standpoint of governance, Mara Thompson continued to be a natural face of the CLICO debacle. CLICO policyholders were given a deadline to confirm all of the information related to their policies which were to be transferred to the new insurance company established by the government. If I remember correctly, the very next day after that deadline, Mara Thompson announced to Gercine Carter of the Nation that her life in parliament was now coming to an end. Politically, she had “false-started” and obviously was advised to claw back the announcement.

The government of Barbados officially transferred the assets and liabilities of CLICO to a politically contrived new insurance company. If my memory serves me correctly, immediately after that event, Mara Thompson announced her retirement from politics and handpicked George Pilgrim as her “successor”. She had decided to “take the money” and not run. The deal had been sealed. No need for any clawback this time. As a former Office Manager of Thompson & Associates, and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mara Thompson now saw how easy it was for the political class to callously transform the wicked actions of evildoers into a financial burden of billions of dollars, and then to deftly place that burden upon the back of docile Barbadian taxpayers.

The CLICO scandal is extremely nasty business. It represents a large crimson stain on the white table cloth of our national psyche. Not too long ago, I submitted a poem to BU entitled “The Walrus and the Carpenter”. Hopefully, discerning BU readers can now see the similarity in the roles being played by the oysters in that poem, and by CLICO policyholders in real life.

The public’s message that has been sent to the political class is that we want the wrongdoers in the CLICO scandal to be punished, and that we want our regulatory system to be tightened and strengthened so that politicians, civil servants, and the whole range of a company’s management team cannot band together and collude to raid and destroy a corporation again.

It should be easy to see, which party crafts a response to this public demand.

Secondly, the Land Registry and the Town & Country Planning Dept. have a database of all politicians and civil servants who own and have developed property in Barbados. Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) has a database of the income which these people have claimed to receive over the past decades.

I am sure that Balaam’s most prized possession, his female ass, is intelligent enough to line up the public salaries of civil servants and politicians with the properties they own and have developed. If an ass can do it, why can’t we? All sensible Barbadians are now calling for those civil servants and politicians who have misappropriated public funds, or who have laundered money, to be identified and punished as criminals.

Have you heard any major political party promising to take these elementary steps to deal with the corrosive influence of corrupt public officials in Barbados? Why not?

Thirdly, Tom Adams, arguably the most brilliant (despite his recklessness) Finance Minister that Barbados has produced to date, possessed enough confidence and political maturity to seek out and attract the talented Owen Arthur, who eventually became PM of Barbados.

On the other hand, the “Cammie Tudor installed PM” Erskine Sandiford, lacking training and expertise in the areas of economics and finance, had to get rid of Dr.Richie Haynes from his cabinet because the electorate had already begun to show some confidence in the Doc’s ability. In a similar vein, David Thompson, all style and no substance when it came to matters of economics and finance, had to get rid of Clyde Mascoll.

Having joined forces with others to rob CLICO policyholders, despite being Prime Minister of Barbados and Minister of Finance, David Thompson then had to push Dr. David Estwick, his former shadow Minister of Finance, to the perceived outer peripheral ring of his cabinet. Through his last-minute pronouncements, it became crystal clear that all of David Thompson’s preoccupations, in life and death, had now morphed into one concentrated goal: to make sure that details of the CLICO grand robbery never reached the eyes and ears of the Barbadian public. He and his co-conspirators, not to mention the Financial Standards Commission (FSC), failed miserably in that regard. God does not like ugly. All we can do now is to fervently pray, that one of these days, millions of years from now, the tormented soul of David Thompson will be finally released from purgatory.

Ryan Straughn, not recognizing that he has a bull’s eye on his political back because of his training in economics, attempted to give Barbadians a comprehensive and analytical view of the various options open to us a country when it came to making a decision on the Transport Board. Of course, privatization of the Transport Board is an option that merits discussion, and the young economist correctly included it in his analysis. With an eye towards destroying Ryan’s stature in the political arena as an economist, before he even got a chance to build it, political agents and his own colleagues immediately jumped into the press and advised members of the electorate not to pay any attention to the mouthings of Ryan Straughn. “This is a subject our party has decided to hide from the public. Ryan is a political rookie, an educated fool, a naïve ‘wet-behind-the –ears’ candidate who has now broken the rules of engagement with the public which the BLP has secretly established”, they effectively declared.

Given the fact that, in the absence of “divine” intervention, the Barbadian economy is about to crash (with thousands upon thousands of resulting fatalities), the Barbadian electorate wanted every serious-minded political party to invite decent, honest-minded Barbadians with backgrounds, training, and expertise in the areas of business and finance, to run for public office. These criteria effectively disqualify 99.9% of lawyers.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Barbadians have lost their trust and confidence in lawyers, and are now clamouring to see corrupt practices eradicated from public life, the major political parties still persist in foisting lawyers upon the electorate?

We shall wait and see what excuses the major political parties are able to come up with for disregarding this public demand.

I haven’t even mentioned FATCA and the opportunity that that imposed legislation creates for us to produce a list of politicians and civil servants with hefty unjustified and indefensible foreign accounts. Such a list should be read out in parliament.

Have you heard this message being preached by our political parties?

I can go on and on……

Hopefully, we shall reconnect after the General Elections are over.

CL Financial Bailout – how the Integrity Commission Failed to carry out its duty

There is the saying that there is nothing new under the sun. One aspect of the CL Financial (CLICO) saga Barbadians can learn from is to critique how the Integrity Commission has performed its role given the clamour to impose transparency legislation in Barbados. Citizen Advocate Afra Raymond shares the view that the Integrity Commission failed to discharge its duties in the CL Financial affair.

– David, blogmaster

Yet another worrying aspect of the CL Financial (CLF) bailout fiasco is the role of the Integrity Commission (IC) in these turbid dealings. I am referring to the apparent failure or refusal of The Commission to carry out its duties in relation to CLF as required by the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA).

I first raised the prospect that CLF might well be under the IC’s oversight on 28th May 2009, in an article entitled – Judgment Time – Moral Hazard part 3. I have been pursuing that concern steadily since September 2012 and yet the position of the IC is no clearer. On 9th September 2015, I again put the question – Is the integrity Commission being willfully blind towards CL Financial? Indeed, in my March 28th 2018 interview with the Trinidad Express, I stated, in relation to the governance aspects unearthed by my campaign – Read full text on Afra Raymond’ s Website.

Mara Thompson’s Porous Legacy

The idea to hatch a Thompson dynasty in the St. John constituency by the late prime minister David Thompson at the behest of his political advisor Hartley Henry ended in failure last week.   The last representative for the St. John riding Mara Thompson  announced her retirement from elective politics last week and took the opportunity to anoint George Pilgrim who was cherry-picked by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) to contest the next general election.

Members of the BU family are keen observers of local politics and the decision by Mara bears a severe critique on several fronts .

She will be remembered for being an incompetent participant in the affairs of parliament whether on her feet or presiding in the Chair as deputy Speaker. Hansard will support. There is no need to be prolix on this matter. For anyone who wants to challenge please point the blogmaster to one seminal intervention she made in her role as a contributor in parliament. The only ‘significant’ contribution that comes to mind was her reference to ‘barren’ women.

The blogmaster admits erring in our support- as the BU archives will support- of the Thompsons. Subsequent events have unfolded to give credence to the view that to err is human.

Although her late husband grabbed the focus as it relates to the Clico Scandal. And revelations contained in the Deloitte Forensic Audit confirmed there is justification in the tainted legacy he has earned. The fact Mara Thompson operated as Office Manager at the defunct Thompson and Associates and MUST have been privy to decisions taken by her husband, not to mention via the pillar talk channel, will also besmirch her legacy and hang around her neck like a yoke rested on our favourite beast of burden  – and the children.  Citizens of the secular world will exact their pound of flesh in recompense, however, there is hope if she claims to be a ‘believer’ to seek repentance for her worldly sins.

The ‘infraction’ the blogmaster prefers to prosecute at this time given our core focus is one of the role of media holding public officials accountable.

It was on November 2017 the Nation newspaper published a story which advised that Mara Thompson:

…will be vacating had been held by her late husband, former Prime Minister David Thompson, from 1987 when he was elected following the death in office of Prime Minister Errol Barrow. Thompson’s death in office in 2010 led to the January 2011 by-election which his widow easily won. Thompson’s disclosure ended weeks of speculation about whether she would be facing the poll constitutionally due early in 2018 – Nation newspaper 15 November 2017

What was amusing is that the local media was forced to defend the story although its source was an interview- albeit a brief one- given by Mara Thompson. She subsequently denied the story. Clearly events have shown that she jumped the gun by making the announcement. We are left to speculate that it was the lack of readiness by the DLP to declare her replacement with a general election looming.

Mara Thompson’s reluctance to ‘lie’ about her premature announcement shows she is no different in moral fibre to the person she deputized for while sitting in the Speaker’s Chair (MICHEAL CARRINGTON). Whether as a member of parliament or Office Manager of Thompson and Associates the conclusion is the same. This is a person who is devoid of the qualities to engage in ethical behaviour if the need to be politically expedient is required. Sadly this is the prevailing quality that describes the local political class.

Why has the media given Mara Thompson a pass?

Afra Raymond Gets CLICO Data – A Case of FOI Working?

The incumbent Barbados DLP government promised to introduce Freedom of Information ( FOI) in 2008, it is 2018 and clearly this will be an undeliverable ten years later.

The CLICO debacle which has affected several Caribbean countries continues to reverberate. The catastrophic event has changed (should) how pan-Caribbean companies are managed. Are we satisfied that learnings gleaned in the post-CLICO collapse are being documented and changes made to processes and regulations to mitigate against a recurrence?

David, Blogmaster

LAST week, nearly six years after he first requested the data under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Ministry of Finance sent Afra Raymond a compact disc with information on all individuals and institutions who received payments from the State for their investments in CLICO, the insurance company that collapsed in January 2009. The matter went to the Court of Appeal before the parties agreed on an out-of-court settlement with the ministry agreeing to most of Raymond’s demands.

For Raymond, an Express Business columnist, property expert and transparency campaigner, it has been a long but ultimately rewarding road, which began with the May 8, 2012 filing with the ministry. As to cost, he will receive 70 per cent of the cost of the litigation in the High Court.

He answers questions on the issue below:

Read full text HERE

CL Financial Bailout – the Eleventh Commandment

Some of us continue to follow the unraveling of the CL Financial matter in Trinidad and related transactions in the other islands concerning CLICO- the conclusion is the same, what a mess! Trinidad has freedom of information and integrity legislation yet citizen advocate Afra Raymond is being frustrated to access information.

David – Barbados Underground

by AfraRaymond

‘…When we were growing-up, the Ten Commandments were drummed into us, in an effort to impart certain values…the way things are in T&T these days, it looks like we all have to live with the Eleventh Commandment…Thou shalt not be found out!…’ Today is eight weeks after the Appeal Court made its Consent Order on […]

Read more of this post

Another Heather Cole Column – JERK HAM AND BALONEY

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler

Just before Christmas 2017, the Print Media published an IMF Report that had been commissioned by the Financial Services Commission (FSC) of Barbados on the Supervisory Framework for Sagicor Life Inc. The report revealed the dismal state not only of the Insurance Industry but for the FSC itself. It alluded to the lack controls, of compliance, oversight; of an agency not equipped or staff trained; and without technical expertise and knowledge. In other words the report stated that the FSC has a mandate that is above its capacity to implement.

The FSC did not disclose the contents of the report which was subsequently published by the Print Media. The Chairman of the FSC, Dr. Frank was quick to berate the Press for making the report public; for disclosing the damaging and secretive report.

The events that led to the publication of the IMF report are somewhat disturbing. The IMF came to Barbados and their consultancy lasted from October 9th to 13th 2017 and the Report was issued on October 13th 2017.

On Friday December 11, 2017 the Minister of Finance informed the House of Assembly that all the operations of CLICO would be transferred to a company Resolution Life Insurance Limited (ResLife) by December 31, 2017.  He also stated that the process by which the assets and liabilities would be transferred would commence in January 2018. He also stated that government would “issue bonds to facilitate the restructuring of CLICO, preserve the investments of policyholders and transfer the real estate assets to New Life Investment Company (NLICO).”

Firstly, it is regrettable that the Minister of Finance chose to ignore the recommendations of the IMF. If there is no credible oversight for the Insurance industry why choose to go ahead and create a new company that will operate under conditions where the industry is a law unto itself? Why choose to continue operations within the same environment that caused CLICO to fail.  Why choose to continue when the IMF has warned that Sagicor has the propensity to fail. 

Putting the proverbial new wine in old skins will only cause the old skins to burst.  One cannot expect to reap success with any new insurance company in Barbados that exists under the same old rules.

Secondly, based on the timeline it suggests that even though he was warned by the IMF on October 13th 2017, the Minister hurried to Parliament with the Resolution.  In his haste, he also did not state who the owners or principals of NLCIO or who the owners or principals of ResLife. There was no mention of the relationship between these two companies.  It is therefore unclear if the present policy holders of CLICO will have a stake in the real estate assets once the new company NLCIO is formed.  I have not read the CLICO International Life Insurance Resolution so I am therefore not in a position to discuss any further based on the contents of the Resolution.

What stands out in my mind about this debate is Maxine McClean ranting and raving about the Resolution preventing vultures from getting their hands on CLICO’s lands. To me that was a big red flag and I wondered if it was the lands of CLICO that made the Minister of Finance disregard the recommendations of the IMF that were intended for the well- being of the industry to give the lands to his friends.

Thirdly, could it be that the Media’s publication of the IMF Report actually thwarted the secret Christmas gift of Jerk Ham and Baloney? If so, the swift actions of the Minister of Finance had nothing to do with the policy holders of CLICO but to ensure that the title deeds would be delivered well before the next general election.