Below is an open letter written by longtime NIC contributor Andrew Antoine to Isaac Anthony, Chairman, National Insurance Corporation Board.
TO: ISAAC ANTHONY – CHAIRMAN – NATIONAL INSURANCE CORPORATION BOARD
FROM: ANDREW ANTOINE
23rd July, 2018
P.O. Box CP5509
Mr. Isaac Anthony
National Insurance Corporation Board
Francis Compton Building
Dear Mr. Anthony,
According to a copy of a letter dated 3rd July, 2018, which was leaked to the host of “Can I Help You”, Richard Frederick, the Director of Finance, Cointha Thomas, requested that the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) make a loan of EC$70m to EC$100m available to the Government of Saint Lucia.
That money, Miss Thomas explained, would be used to discharge the government’s obligations to holders of government bonds maturing between 30th July, 2018 and 31st July, 2018. In her letter, Miss Thomas also ‘directed’ the Corporation to deposit the loan amount into account number 310702002. The letter was addressed to a director of the NIC, Mr. Matthew L. Mathurin.
(My interest in this stems from the fact that I have made contributions to the NIS/NIC for more than thirty years.)
Mr. Anthony, on the basis that the above-mentioned letter is not a ‘fake’, and while I fully appreciate that the NIC has the authority to ‘invest’ funds which it holds in trust for its paying and paid-up pensioners, several things about the letter bother me. Here, therefore, are some questions/concerns that I have:
* Why is the above letter written by the Director of Finance and not the Prime Minister or the Minister for Finance in the Office of the Prime Minister? Is this normal?
* Why is the said letter addressed to one of the NIC directors, Mr. Matthew L. Mathurin, and not the chairperson?
* Do you know whether identical letters were written to other members of the board?
* Given this government’s, and especially the Prime Minister’s, dismal record to date in handling Saint Lucia’s finances, I am deeply disturbed that the NIC may be giving, or has already given, favourable consideration to Miss Thomas’s request.
May I remind you, Mr. Anthony, that the NIC Board and the NIC are supposed to act as the custodians for our public pension and insurance funds? The conduct of the Prime Minister in managing Saint Lucia’s finances has convinced me that neither he nor the Minister for Finance in the Office of the Prime Minister has a single clue, or is qualified, in that regard. Further, it doesn’t appear that the Prime Minister takes any advice from his technocrats in addressing or dealing with such issues for which he has absolutely no expertise.
A bit of caution here, Mr. Anthony. The eyes of the general public are as much on the Prime Minister as they are on you and your Board in this matter. Failure on your part to exercise the kind of prudence required here will leave pensioners with no choice but to hold you and the NIC Board just as responsible as the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister may not think much about accountability in government, but the people of this country do. Be advised!