Commissioners asking for J$20m to finalise work
No work is currently being done on the report of the commission of enquiry into the operations of Financial Sector Adjustment Company Limited (FINSAC) because the Ministry of Finance has not yet allocated additional funds requested by the commissioners.
"The writing and completion of the report is totally dependent on the Ministry of Finance providing the necessary funds," Commission Chairman Worrick Bogle told the Financial Gleaner on Tuesday.
"We have done what they have asked us to do," said Bogle, adding that "it is now for them to provide the necessary funds".
Asked if any work was currently being done on the report, Bogle, a chartered accountant, said "at the moment, nothing is being done on it."
The Ministry of Finance did not respond to Financial Gleaner queries up to yesterday as to when it expects to receive the report and the extent of the additional funds, if any, it was prepared to spend in having the document ready.
However, in late September, the ministry said the commissioners indicated that they wanted an additional J$20 million to complete the report.
The ministry also said it requested a precise timetable, budget and a detailed justification of the request. It said it has since received a new timetable and budget.
The first part of the report was expected to be delivered by April this year and the second part by August, but nothing has been prepared as yet.
about-turn by government
The decision to entertain the request for additional funds is an about-turn by the Government, given the declaration by Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips in June that the only additional expenditure contemplated on the commission was the payment of stenographers' fees.
The Government's reconsidera-tion would have partly been influenced by interest groups, especially those who testified at the enquiry that they lost millions of dollars in investments during the financial-sector debacle during the 1990s, and who have waged a campaign urging the Government to ensure the commissioners be allowed to complete their work.
The commission of enquiry, which began sitting in September 2009, was expected to last for six months, but only wrapped up proceedings towards the end of last year because of legal battles and what the commissioners said were the absence of witnesses.
It was established under the Jamaica Labour Party administration and mandated to examine the issues surrounding the financial-sector meltdown of the 1990s when the People's National Party held power and how the crisis was handled by bailout agent FINSAC.
Phillips told Parliament on June 6 that as at that date there was no report, interim or otherwise, despite the Government paying some J$65 million to finance the commission; and that there were outstanding bills for rental and other costs.
The commission - which also comprised Commissioner Charles Ross, an investment banker; secretary Fernando Deperalto, a former executive at the Bank of Jamaica; and legal adviser, retired Justice Henderson Downer - had been instructed by former Finance Minister Audley Shaw to complete its work by November 2011.
With Phillips' declaration that the Government would not incur additional expenditure on the commission, Shaw said he would report the Government to international bodies if the commissioners were not allowed to complete their work.