By Theresa Goodwin,
Political Leader of the main opposition party in Antigua and Barbuda has harshly criticized a recent decision by the government to place State Insurance Corporation (SIC) – a state-owned insurance company – under the control of the National Asset Management Company (NAMCO).
NAMCO is an asset-holding and consolidated management corporation which is owned and directed by the government of Antigua and Barbuda.
Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell called the move, which took effect last Thursday, a recipe for disaster.
He also cited many things that could go wrong with the set-up and suggested other alternative arrangements which could be considered by the government.
Lovell said he sees no justifiable reason for going to NAMCO, adding that it will create a plethora of problems.
“If the government intends to use NAMCO as an instrument for funding projects for the government then, the West Indies Oil Company Limited and State Insurance are going to be the two main drivers within NAMCO. Success does not mean that every year who are going to meet the same success and conditions. State Insurance could be hit with huge claims and at the same time, we could see a change in the price of oil where West Indies Oil could find itself in difficulty,” Lovell said.
Lovell also spoke about the public losing trust and confidence in State Insurance.
The political leader for the UPP also went on to suggest that, “The Antigua Commercial Bank’s model has to be the best model. Get Antiguans and Barbudans to own shares in State Insurance, elect their board of directors to have the thing properly run. The bank has demonstrated that we have the capacity to do it. To me, NAMCO is a vehicle that is opened to corruption.”
Last week, Information Minister Melford Nicholas said that among the benefits include that fact that the company is not being sold to any foreign entity.
He also noted that State Insurance Corporation, the name, is a strong local brand and NAMCO is owned by the government; so, the profits will continue to stay in Antigua to help develop the economy.