REVIEW: Public Accounts Committee member and Sport Minister Anil Roberts during a review of the National Insurance Board's financial statements in Parliament at the International Waterfront Centre yesterday. —Photo: Anisto Alves

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NIB under fire

By Renuka Singh

The National Insurance Board (NIB) came under fire yesterday for a four-year-old million dollar investment in CLICO Investment Bank (CIB) instead of a more stable State enterprise.

The question arose during the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) review of the NIB's financial documents at the Parliament building at the International Financial Centre in Port of Spain yesterday.

A review of the financial documents showed a small percentage of the million-dollar fund remained in a fixed deposit, while larger sums were allocated to a bond with the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) and a $156 million investment into CIB.

Lorna Charles, NIB's executive director, said yesterday she could not recall the exact rate of interest on the UDeCOTT bond, but said it would have been at the prevailing rate at the time in 2009.

Charles itemised the investment portfolio and explained that most of the money was placed in substantial long term investments in local companies while as much as 27 per cent was invested in higher yield, higher risk international investments.

PAC member Sport Minister Anil Roberts said the low fixed deposit figure was worrying, since it came after the 2008 global financial crisis.

"The fixed deposit figure should be higher. Any rational person in Trinidad and Tobago would know that your fixed deposit should be a higher figure in your portfolio to mitigate your risk," he said.

"What was the rationale and thought process to put $156 million in CIB that did not have a great track record," he said.

He listed several local banks which were safer investment options.

"You only put $76 million in Unit Trust (Corporation) which would be a safer and more secure bet. Who made that decision?" he said.

Though PAC chairman Colm Imbert said the same questions were put to the NIB representatives at the last meeting, there were still not answers.

Imbert gave the group a further two weeks to furnish the PAC with the information.

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