In October 2010, our Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, told us that CLICO was in deficit to the tune of $7 billion with assets of about $16 billion and liabilities of about $23 billion.
Because the nation could not afford to honour those liabilities, the Central Bank Amendment Act was passed depriving creditors of their legal rights, and access to their money as per their contracts.
Roll forward three years and we are now told the assets were worth much more than they thought at the time.
In fact, the Republic Bank shares on their own, when sold, fetched a whopping 3.8 billion dollars more than the book value. It is very likely that the Methanol shares would perform in a similar manner.
In other words, the underestimation of the worth of the shares almost totally erases the deficit in value that Minister Dookeran led us to believe existed. That must be good news all round. It should mean that creditors could be paid in full without need for recourse to the taxpayer.
It definitely also means that the rationale for keeping the company under Central Bank control and the denial of creditors’ constitutional rights is no longer valid.
Furthermore, how do we explain the increase in liabilities over the period, now standing at $29 billion, $3 billion more than in 2010?
That defies all logic and surely requires explanation from the authorities. Are they saying that in the three years since Persad-Bissessar’s statement they have not paid any creditors and in fact now owe even more? How, specifically, have liabilities risen?
And how do we reconcile greatly increased asset values with the ever-increasing cost of the bailout which was last said to stand at more than $24 billion? With the deficit at CLICO now acknowledged to be minimal, where has our $24 billion gone?
These are just a few of the anomalies that arise from this latest set of accounts from CLICO. These are serious issues affecting billions of our dollars. As the Prime Minister said in her first excellent speech on the CLICO matter—“We deserve answers”.