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New India Assurance expands to Guyana

Saturday, January 25, 2014
Vasant Bharath, Minister of Trade, Industry and Investments, centre, assists with the installation of a time capsule at the New India Assurance Building, Victoria Avenue, Port-of-Spain on Thursday. The capsule was installed after an Inter-faith service commemorating the first anniversary of the building. With Minister Bharath are, Sookdeo Beepath, corporate consultant, New India Assurance (T&T) Limited, left, and Gopalan Srinivasan, chairman, New India Assurance Company Limited, Mumbai, India. Photo: ANDRE ALEXANDER.

New India Assurance Company Ltd is planning to expand to Guyana from its T&T subsidiary’s head office in Port-of-Spain, the company’s global chairman said on Thursday evening. Speaking after a time-capsule installation ceremony at company’s one-year-old Victoria Avenue building, Mumbai-based Gopalan Srinivasan said: 



“Globally, we are trying to expand into Canada, Qatar in the Middle East and Myanmar, or Burma, which is opening up now. In this part of the world, we are looking at Guyana and some more territories where we would (like to) go now.” Asked if the expansion to Guyana would be from T&T, Srinivasan said: “Yes, from this office.” 



The T&T headquarters of the Indian government-owned company is located next to the Indian High Commission to Port-of-Spain. Founded in 1919, New India Assurance is a 100-per cent state-owned multinational general insurance company operating in 22 countries and headquartered in Mumbai.



Asked about the company’s readiness for T&T’s Insurance Bill, which is now in the hands of a parliamentary committee, Srinivasan said as a global company, New India already satisfies the requirements. Prior to the drafting of the bill, Srinivasan said, New India had been calling for some of the reforms included in the bill, so he was pleased to see it progressing to become legislation.


Also speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment Vasant Bharath said the Insurance Bill is still being refined by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament. While he could not give a timeframe by when it would be passed and proclaimed, he estimated it may be debated further in Parliament in sittings over the next two weeks.


Addressing guests at an inter-faith service in commemoration of New India’s first anniversary in its new building, Bharath said Government has started developing a financial business process outsourcing (BPO) industry for T&T. “Through the T&T International Financial Centre, whose mandate is to develop a financial BPO industry for T&T, we will brand T&T as the premier location in the western hemisphere for financial services,” he said.



Bharath said T&T has already signed with Quattro BPO Solutions of India to set up an office here to service its US customers. He said the pilot project will initially employ 30 to 50 people, “but, of course, if successful, they will roll out in a much larger fashion”. He said Quattro will begin the pilot project “during the course of 2014”.


Bharath told the New India executives that with their 60 years’ experience in T&T, “you all have certainly contributed to the development of our local economy”. 



“This is so, as the insurance industry promotes economic growth and structural development through various channels. You provide broader insurance coverage directly to firms, improving their financial soundness. You foster entrepreneurial attitudes, encouraging investment, innovation, market dynamism and competition. You offer social protection alongside the state, releasing pressure on public sector finance. 


“You enhance financial intermediation, creating liquidity and mobilising savings. As major institutional investors, insurers gather dispersed financial resources, and channel them towards investment opportunities, facilitating companies’ access to capital.” Further, he said, by protecting firms and citizens against adverse events, the insurance sector provides a safety net that allows policyholders to restart their activities whatever their difficulties.



“Insurance plays, at this level, a key role in economic stability,” he said. Moreover, as institutional investors, the insurance sector provides a long-term source of finance for investment in the economy, thus contributing to sustainable growth. 


Insurance not only provides a stable operating environment, but it also improves companies’ awareness of risk management, and influences their investment decisions, Bharath said. “Our overarching goal, as a government, is to become globally competitive while developing sustainable jobs and empowering our citizens to innovate, create and take risks with the aim of cementing our ideas and goods in the global marketplace,” he said.


Together, Bharath said, government and the private sector “can lay critical foundation stones so that T&T is well positioned to take further advantage of opportunities in the global financial services arena.” 


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