Rowley hails NIF over $897M dividend

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. – Photo courtesy Office of the Prime Minister

In a Facebook statement on Tuesday the Prime Minister saluted the performance of the National Investment Fund (NIF) for having made $897.6 million in payouts to bond bonders since its launch in 2018.

He also chided the Opposition for once having dubbed it a Ponzi scheme.

In a Newsday story dated July 6, 2018, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar asked why the Government was not selling shares to the public in the entities comprising the NIF, rather than selling bonds, which she described as the Government as borrowing from an unsuspecting public in an unguaranteed arrangement.

“I reiterate that this NIF is an ill-conceived, vague, deceptive Ponzi-like scheme being piloted by an equally vague, deceptive, incompetent Government,” she said.

Dr Rowley posted on his Facebook page a recent NIF announcement headlined: $112.2 million paid to bondholders, along with his statement praising the NIF.

He remarked, “When the National Investment Fund (NIF) was launched in 2018, the Opposition attempted to undermine it by labelling it a ‘Ponzi’ scheme. In the four years since its successful launch, not only has the Opposition been proven wrong, but NIF has now paid out $897.6 million in dividends to its faithful investors – many of whom are just ‘regular’ citizens.

“Furthermore, the investment portfolio on which NIF is based has grown solidly in that time, increasing in value from $7.9B to $10.02B. A 26.8 per cent increase!

“Thank you GORTT! And thank you, NIF! Performance beats ole talk every time!”

The NIF ad said that on Tuesday the NIF had made its eighth distribution interest payment of $112.2 million to 7,500 bondholders on its $4 billion bond, as part of a total interest payout since inception of $897.6 million. Further, the NIF said that on Thursday it will make its ninth semi-annual coupon payment to bondholders.

The NIF consists of shares in power company Trinidad Generation Unlimited (TGU) plus five assets (chiefly Republic Bank shares) transferred from Clico and Clico Investment Bank (CIB) to the Government (under the Central Bank’s supervision) as compensation for the Government’s bailout of Clico and the CIB.

By weightings, the NIF comprises shares in Republic Bank (54.7 percent), TGU (25.7 per cent), Angostura Holdings (12.3 per cent), Witco (5.1 per cent), One Caribbean Media (2.2 per cent).

The percentage ownership of each company held by the NIF is Republic Bank (26 per cent), TGU (100 per cent), Angostura Holdings (29.9 per cent), Witco (5.4 per cent), One Caribbean Media (23 per cent).