Mon | Sep 25, 2017

More money, more time for FINSAC commissioners

Published:Thursday | September 14, 2017 | 9:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Minister of Information, Senator Ruel Reid in discussion with Naomi Francis, press secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister before the start of his post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House yesterday.

The cost to complete the Financial Sector Adjustment Company (FINSAC) report into the collapse of the financial sector in the 1990s continues to spike, with the Government allocating more funds yesterday to pay the commissioners who have again asked for more time to submit their findings.

After being given a final seven-month timeline by Finance and the Public Service Minister Audley Shaw this year to complete the FINSAC report, the commissioners have been given a further three months to finish the job.

"The report is coming. The writing of the report will commence shortly, and by Cabinet decision, they are given a maximum of seven months to have the completion and publication of the report," said Shaw earlier this year in an address at the Mayberry investors' forum in New Kingston.

Taxpayers will again have to dig deeper into their pockets to cover payments to the commissioners as the extension beyond July comes with a cost.

Yesterday, Information Minister Ruel Reid told journalists at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House that Cabinet had granted approval for a recommendation to the governor general, for an extension of three months and a revised budget of $58.4 million for the completion of the FINSAC report.

"We agonised over this particular decision, and what was presented to us was the actual number of files and the actual work now to be done, which has been costed independently, and on that basis, Cabinet was convinced that yes, the expenditure could be supported," he said.

In January, Shaw reported that an allocation of $35.7 million had been made in the Supplementary Estimates to complete the report. However, Reid said that for the three-month extension, the budget has been revised to $58.4 million.

 

Intense public debate

 

The commission of enquiry into FINSAC has been the subject of extensive and intense public debate since the probe started in 2009. The initial duration of the enquiry was six months.

In 2012, the then commissioners wrote to former finance minister Dr Peter Phillips indicating that they would submit their findings in two parts - April 2012 and August 2012. However, this did not materialise.

Commenting on the FINSAC report in 2012, former finance minister Dr Peter Phillips said: "As of today (June 6), there is no report, interim or otherwise, despite taxpayers paying out some $65 million, and there are bills outstanding for rental and other costs."

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com