Foreign Affairs Minister and former finance minister Winston Dookeran yesterday said he was "surprised" by Justice Joan Charles's judgment on Tuesday against the State, in favour of the United Policyholders Group.
But he maintained the State's decision to offer Colonial Life Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd (Clico) Executive Flexible Premium Annuity (EFPA) policyholders a bailout package was not illegal.
Justice Charles had ruled that some 250 EFPA policyholders who had rejected the Government's bailout plan in favour of court action should receive 100 per cent of the money owed to them, plus interest of three per cent, from September 2010 to March 12, 2013, estimated at $300 million.
Justice Charles had determined the People's Partnership Government failed to keep a promise of "legitimate expectation" made to the EFPA policyholders by the previous People's National Movement administration. Dookeran observed that 92 per cent of the policyholders had already accepted the Government's bailout plan.
In his interpretation of the judgment, Dookeran believes it can't affect the Government's bailout plan and its continued implementation.
Dookeran, who was instrumental in the bailout plan which affected some 25,000 policyholders, including credit unions, said the State intended to appeal the decision in the 28-day stay of execution granted by Justice Charles.
"In the economics of the plan, the country was able to avert a fiscal cliff which several countries, including the United States, went through during their fiscal challenges," he told the Express.
In his first budget for the People's Partnership administration, Dookeran had proposed a bailout plan of an initial sum of $75,000 and 20 zero-rated annual coupons. However, that plan was publicly criticised by the Clico Policyholders Group, and policyholders were then given an option to cash out their bonds and trade the 11- to 20-year bonds in the Clico Investment Fund.