CLICO policyholders and investors have been given the assurance by this island???s Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, that Government is continuing to do what it has been advised ???are the appropriate things??? to protect them.

Speaking on the sidelines of his official visit to the relocated Financial Services Commission at Harbour Road, Mr. Sinckler said Government remains committed to ensuring that policyholders and investors ???are made as whole as is humanely possible in the circumstances???.

Acknowledging that ???there are challenges with the exercise???, he continued: ???It is not something that is hidden from public knowledge; there is a process in place for judicial management and I think that process should be allowed to take its course in relation to what is happening.???

During the wide-ranging press conference, the Minister stated that Government had given a number of incentives across several sectors which he listed as tourism, financial services and alternative energy to spur investment, and positive responses were being reported.

???People say there should be more spending in the economy and we agree, but we have a slightly different approach to that. We don???t believe in just having consumer spending???although that does contribute to overall economic activity. But we know it uses up foreign exchange because a lot of what we do requires imports.

???So, what we suggest to people is that they do more investing, particular in productive activities, things that can earn foreign exchange, grow jobs and build the overall wealth of the country, and we are beginning to see a pickup in investment.

“There are a number of projects in the private sector that are coming on stream, some have started already, others are going through the various regulatory processes and once complete, are likely to be started, so that is to be encouraged. We want the investment side of the economic book to look a lot better and we believe that is beginning to happen,??? he declared.

Mr. Sinckler pointed out that Government had completed the first and second phases of its estimates exercise and the technical staff was now working on the third segment, which should be completed in a few weeks. He explained that the information would return to him and discussions would follow with top economic planners and financial analysts.

When questioned about if Barbadians would receive an economic ease this year, the Minister of Finance noted that Government???s ultimate goals included reducing the level of taxes; controlling Government expenditure to the limit that it could; and continuing the structural reform of the economy.

He reminded those present about the study done by the International Monetary Fund which looked at a number of sectors in Barbados, and promised that Government would be moving forward with some critical aspects of it.

With regard to the sugar industry, Mr. Sinckler said there were a couple technical issues with the lawyers regarding the loan for the cane farmers but he had been advised that everything had been resolved and disbursement would be ???any day now???.

He insisted, however, that reform of the sugar sector was being pushed because without such an intervention, it was not going to be possible to save sugar in Barbados.

???For sugar to fail or to not have an orderly restructuring, it is going to have an impact on other sectors, particularly non-sugar agriculture in Barbados, and that we can ill afford, so we have been working on it diligently,??? he stressed.

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