SIC founder suggests regional expansion

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As State Insurance Corporation (SIC) celebrates its 40th anniversary, one of its founders believes that the state-owned company has the potential to expand across the region and increase earnings substantially.

Stating that it’s a pity that SIC operates only in Antigua & Barbuda, Hugh Marshall Sr posited that the state-owned company could increase its profits and returns to taxpayers by entering new markets.

“Because the same way that Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica can send insurance companies to set up themselves in Antigua, and then to tell me it’s one economic space, I don’t see why I can’t go in the Windward and Leeward Islands and set up business and sell State Insurance,” Marshall said.

But it’s up for the management to do that; it’s not for me to tell them what to do.”

Another of the insurance company’s founders, Stanley Humphreys, said research is needed before any expansion into the region.

“As Mr Marshall says, you have to do market study for everything you are going to do. For instance, if you are going into St Kitts, you need to know how their ratio is in terms of claims, and if you know that and you know the claim ratio in St Lucia is much better, you might decide to start in St Lucia,” Humphreys said.

Meanwhile, Marshall said a study was conducted 40 years ago while SIC was being established, that advocated that the government should get into the banking business.

“In that study, too, we had included that we should have a bank, and VC Bird [said] ‘no, no, no, you have Antigua Commercial Bank’! I agree if you have Antigua Commercial Bank there is no need to set up another bank to compete against ACB; you need to strengthen the bank,” Marshall said.

The United Progressive Party administration had explored divesting SIC, while the Gaston Browne administration plans to expand the business.

State Insurance recently presented a multi-million-dollar dividend cheque to the government of Antigua and Barbuda.

The government recently acquired the Caribbean Union Bank (CUB) and has shares in the Antigua and Barbuda Investment (ABI) Bank after bailing out the financially troubled bank.

Some pundits have urged the government to get out of banking as soon as possible and leave the business to the private sector. 

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