Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Doctor Ubaldus Raymond has declared that the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), is hell-bent on creating panic among citizens of this country and pensioners in particular.
He accused the opposition of doing so willfully.
According to the minister, the opposition recently attacked and tried to cause panic among pensioners in regard to National Insurance Corporation (NIC) funds.
“This came as a result of a leaked document whereby the government is seeking to borrow – it is actually a breaching financing facility, to pay off maturing bonds – bonds that will be due at the end of July,” Raymond disclosed.
“They leaked a document that suggests that the government is asking for $70 million to $100 million to take care of the retirement of these bonds,” he told reporters.
The minister explained that the interest rate was at 3 percent.
“Sadly to say, the opposition leader and his surrogates made it look like we are interfering with the funds of the pensioners and it’s like the government has done something that is illegal, or something that is out of the ordinary,” Raymond stated.
“I have in my hand actually, the very same thing the government that the government asked of the NIC – the previous government of the labour party asked for the very same thing. I have it right in my hands,” the minister said.
He noted that the document was dated October 14, 2015.
Raymond said the then government was seeking through the very same facility, a bridging finance facility of $40 million at 5 percent for 180 days.
“What is different about that?” He asked.
“And why does the government require such a thing? It has to do with the government’s cash flow.”
“When bonds are due, the government has to show that they have the requisite principal to retire those bonds and if the government doesn’t have the money at the time, the government seeks ways and means of paying those bonds,” Raymond stated.
He said the issue has nothing to do with putting the pensioners’ fund in jeopardy.
“In fact, the NIC has – as part of its portfolio, investments. There’s an investment policy within the NIC and this is just one of the areas in which the NIC invests its funds. In fact the NIC is very liquid, and if the government is coming to them and saying “Look, we actually need to pay down our bonds. Can you actually lend us this money?’ And that is what we did. It is a normal process.”
Raymond asserted that the opposition had leaked the incorrect document.
“The document that is policy in terms of borrowing money for the bridging financing facility from the NIC is actually this one and I want to read it, in terms of the terms and conditions. The amount is $100 million and the issue date is July 23, 2018 and the interest rate is half a percent. The turn around is 30 days. In other words, the government of Saint Lucia will give back to the NIC, their monies within 30 days. So in what way are we jeopardising the funds of the NIC?”