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Shareholders of BLA ask FSA to stop politicians from speaking about institution

Shareholders of BLA ask FSA to stop politicians from speaking about institution

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An agreement has been reached between the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the committee elected to represent shareholders of the Building and Loan Association (BLA) to influence politicians to refrain from engaging in chatter over the troubled financial institution.

This was one of the issues discussed when the committee met with the FSA on March 12, Junior Bacchus, chairman of the committee, said.

A call was also made for economist Luke Browne, who, in January, wrote the letter to a local newspaper which triggered a run on the BLA, to refrain from making public comments on the issue.

Bacchus made the point on Tuesday at a shareholders meeting at the Methodist Church Hall, and the point was reinforced at a press conference on Wednesday.

“We believe that that chatter is not helping to build the confidence that is so necessary for the survival and rebuilding of Building and Loan,” Bacchus said.

“We know that following the intervention of the Financial Services Authority that there was a lot of talk on both sides of the political fence — a lot of information that we thought should not have been public — people’s personal business, so to speak,” he continued.

According to Bacchus, from time to time the prime minister may report on progress made, as he had done recently, and that information may be needed to help build confidence.

He further explained that the committee was referring to chatter that will give investors a feeling that they will take their business away from the BLA.

“Right now the way to go forward is to allow the FSA to do what it is doing and allow the FSA to report back to the public and its shareholders and we as a committee will interface with the FSA from time to time,” the chairman said.

Jerry George, Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the group, said that immediately following the publication of the letter by Luke Browne, an economist in the Ministry of Finance, a situation arose where there “were seeds for politicking”.

“And that took place; there’s no ifs, and or buts about that — politicians were brought into this and it was being used for political purposes,” he said.

Therefore, a decision was made and agreed upon by both sides that that should stop, George explained.

The committee’s PRO said further that following the March 12 meeting with the FSA, Browne appeared on a television programme.

“And we thought since there had been agreements on both sides that the chatter should stop that the person who started this should be influenced to stop speaking on the matter, because every time that person appears, it refreshed people’s mind on the hurt, and we wrote to the FSA to ask them to do that also, to use their influence to stop Mr Luke Browne from being out there, engaging in various public forums on the subject,” George said.

Browne, who is employed in the civil service as an economist, is also a politician, having unsuccessfully contested the East Kingstown seat for the Unity Labour Party in 2010. (DD)

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