Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Insurance Is All About Trust "- Says CBG First Deputy Governor

Dawda Sarge 
The West African Insurance Companies Association (WAICA) a regional association of insurance companies and institutions in English West Africa, is holding its 34th Annual General meeting.
The meeting dubbed "Professional and Ethical Behaviour in the Insurance Industry" and is taking place from 15th to 17 th April, 2012 at the Kariaba Beach Hotel and the meetings is been hosted by the Insurance Association of the Gambia (IAG).
WAICA was founded in 1973 by five English speaking countries of West Africa – The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria. The meeting brought together about 200 insurance practitioners.
Reading a prepared statement on behalf of the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr. Basirou Njie deputy first governor Central Bank of the Gambia (CBG) said that the theme of the conference "Professional and Ethical Behaviour in the Insurance Industry" is indeed apt adding that insurance is all about trust.
According to him, the customer places his or her trust in a company and expects that it will deliver upon its promises at the agreed time or event.
He added that buyers of insurance policies also need the reassurance that their interests are safe guarded at inception as well as during the lifetime of the policy noting that they would be treated fairly and their benefits and claims paid promptly.
"Oversight is primarily the responsibility of the owners and directors," and as a result, he  said it is their cardinal responsibility to establish code of ethics, including laying down rules on behaviour and attitude to be observed by the staff and management when conducting their duties effective, the messager must be the message.
"It cannot be the case of preaching 'do as I say', but rather, 'do as I do..."
The only way to guarantee a better future for the insurance industry, he said is to create it saying that government cannot and will not guarantee the success of the industry, but was quick to say that government does have primary role in promoting the growth of the industry and ensuring that individuals companies play by the rules.
He re-echoed that the government of The Gambia is unreservedly committed to the development of the Gambian insurance industry.
As recently, CBG first governor stated that as 2007, the Central Bank of The Gambia raised the regulatory capital of insurance companies noting that the increase of the minimum capital requirement helped strenthen the risk bearing capacity of the insurance companies. In addition, to enhancing their ability to underwrite big ticket risks.
These, he explained is to protect policy holders and ensure that business is cnducted safely and soundly, the industry wolud continue to be regulated, but in a manner that does not stifle innovation.
According to Mr. Njie, the insurance industry plays a pivotal role in economic growth and development.
For this fundamental reason, he pointed out that the health of  country's insurance industry is closely linked to the health of its economic.
In addition, to providing risks transfer services, the industry facilitates trade and commerce, mobilises saving for investment and ensures efficient allocation of capital. According to recent data, he said the growth of the industry in Africa remains minuscule despite that insurance has been practised on the continent for more than 100 years.
Africa, Njie added has an insurance penetration of roughly 1.0 percent and less than 10 percent of the insurable population is actually insured.
He continued that South Africa alone accounted for 70 percent of the African Insurance market adding that the financial services industry within the continent, particularly the banking sector.
For example, in The Gambia the assets of the insurance industry accounts for less than 0.8 percent of the total financial sector assets.
Therefore, the potential for growth of the industry is huge, he stated.
To realise the potential, the industry must offer the right products to the right segments of the market, leverage on technology to increase outreach, explore market consolidation in order to reap the benefits of economics of scale and equally important, formulate and rigorously implement code of good practices.
In his welcome address, Mr. Dawda Sarge vice President of WAICA, Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Prime Insurance Company.-The Gambia,  reiterated that the theme for the two-day meeting is indeed ‘interesting and appropriate’ considering the scale and scope of professional chicanery and ethical misconduct in their financial systems in recent times.
“We do recognised that the consequences of bad business practices could very well jeopardize our collective efforts to sustain economic growth, employment creation and poverty alleviation.”
Therefore, as a professional body, he pointed out that WAICA fully appreciates and understands the true value of investing in awareness creation in best practice approaches and good governance in the industry.
He then salute the WAICA Executive Committee and Secretary General for choosing the topic and giving them an opportunity to discuss and share perspectives on a very important and timely subject.
Mr. William B. Coker secretary general and chief executive officer WAICA delivered the vote of thanks.

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