May 31, 2009 News
The frustration at the Colonial Life Insurance Company’s (CLICO) Guyana Head Office, is ever growing, given that the agents attached to the company are increasingly peeved at what can only be described as being robbed with little or no recourse.
This, after the agents had to wait for months without being paid their commissions and when the process did start, it was less than what was desired.
According to the agents, when premiums are handed over to the company on behalf of policy holders, a discrepancy form is prepared which states the commission payable to the agents for the month.
The information is then verified by the company and the commission paid.
This process, the agents said, recently went haywire. It is seemingly designed to rob them, given that the company is now calculating their commissions at least 80 per cent less than what they are entitled and the 20 per cent they actually receive, is subject to deductions.
The company has only related to them that the situation was out of their hands, given that all of the transactions related to their payments were conducted in Trinidad and Tobago.
The agents also said that they are being treated as if they are not a part of the operations at CLICO (Guyana), in that there has still been no formal appraisal of the status quo at the embattled company.
It was pointed out that things turned for the worse when the company started to lay off employees. The proficient ones were sent home and some incompetent staffers kept.
In the past, when an irregularity occurred in the calculations of commission, it would take some time, but the difference would have been paid after some fuss.
Some of the agents did make contact with the Ministry of Labour about the issue, and this newspaper understands that statements were taken and a confrontation with the Chief Executive Officer of CLICO Guyana, Geeta Singh-Knight, was promised.
“They heartless, and wicked,” said one of the agents, who pointed to the fact that the company was not doing any new business and income fell, given that some policy holders had opted to discontinue paying premiums. “But they pay themselves and not us.”
The peeved agents were even more disgruntled, given that while they felt they were being robbed, Singh-Knights was grossing $1.7M per month and the Accounting Officer, Sharon Melville remained with her $700,000. “They should have taken a pay cut at least.”
The woes for CLICO (Guyana) agents commenced when the company started firing some of its staff members and relocating agents.
Early last month, the problems escalated to the point that the agents were forced to protest in front of the company’s head quarters for their commission, which at that time, was not paid to them since January of this year.
The agents at the time told members of the media, that all their efforts to contact the relevant authorities in CLICO (Guyana) for their money proved futile. They claim that they are always told that the individuals are ‘in a meeting’. In early March, approximately 30 employees of CLICO (Guyana) were issued with letters terminating their service.
The company’s Lamaha Street branch was closed down as the troubled insurance company faced its financial predicament.
Among those who lost their jobs was the entire staff of the Marketing Department as well as several members from the Financial and Underwriting Departments. Cleaners and receptionists were also terminated.
Following the liquidation order of CLICO Bahamas, the then Commissioner of Insurance, Maria Van Beek, moved to the Court locally on February 25, to have Clico Guyana liquidated ,but was granted judicial management until a report on the state of affairs at the company could be presented.
She was later shot, but survived and has since left the country. Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, moved to the Court to have the role of the Office of Commissioner of Insurance placed under the purview of the Bank Of Guyana. This newspaper understands that in the interim, the Deputy Commissioner of Insurance has taken over in place of Van Beek. The last word out of CLICO (Guyana) was that at worst the company’s liability outweighed its assets by some US$60M, with another US$34M seemingly impaired in The Bahamas.
That country is currently treating the money as an inter company loan and as such, does not stand as a priority on the list of first payments under the liquidation process.
Guyana has since challenged that status in the Courts in The Bahamas.
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