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Opposition, Govt praise proposed insurance law

Published: 
Monday, February 19, 2018

The practice by some insurance companies to delay customers’ claims — as well as deny them — will be reduced by upcoming new insurance sector law once the Central Bank and other relevant regulators do their work, UNC MP Ganga Singh has noted.

Singh spoke yesterday about the Insurance bill which was passed by both Government and Opposition in Parliament last Friday.

He said the bill was drafted by the past People’s Partnership administration following the collapse of the Clico empire in 2009 and the failure of Hindu Credit Union. It was later subjected to fine-tuning and Parliamentary committee work under the present PNM administration.

The legislation seeks to significantly strengthen the regulatory and monitoring powers of the Central Bank. This, with the intention of preventing any financial sector collapse similar to the Clico and HCU debacles.

After passage in the House of Representatives last week, the bill must now be debated in the Senate.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Twitter said the bill ushered in a new era of regulation of insurance companies and protection of consumers: “The new Insurance Act will allow the Central Bank to intervene if an insurance company is not acting in the best interest of the policyholders, or is using policyholder funds for unauthorised purposes. New guidelines for setting claims quickly and fairly will also be published.”

Yesterday, Singh said the ability of some insurance companies to delay claims, deny them or use litigation to defend such action will be cut once Central Bank and insurance regulators/inspectors do their work under the new legislation.

He noted stricter requirements under the new legislation involve required reporting by companies to Central Bank on their solvency and capital injection. The Inspector of Banks and Central Bank will also have more “teeth” to intervene in matters.

“These authorities will move from merely passing regulations for the sector to being interventionists with Central Bank also being given powers of enforcement and compliance — it’s very good law, they won’t be able to complain they have no power to act, “Singh said, adding the bill caters for whistleblowing also.

PARLIAMENTARY SEAT SHIFT FOR SINGH

Another internal Opposition change for MP Ganga Singh.

Singh — a former Opposition chief whip — has now been pushed further down the Opposition row to the very last seat on the Opposition backbench.

Singh was removed by Opposition leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar as Opposition whip last year, and replaced by MP David Lee. At that time Singh was moved from the Opposition front bench where he’d initially sat next to Persad Bissessar, to the seat behind — the first seat on the Opposition backbench.

“Where I sit doesn’t determine where I stand,” Singh said, brushing off the change.

He had no comment on whether the latest change of seat was due to his outspoken views on what he’d termed the lack of constitutionality of the UNC’s internal elections last year.

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