The FINSAC Commission of Enquiry report remains outstanding more than a year after the conclusion of the hearings, even as a stakeholder group accuses the Government of plans to bury it.
President of the Association of Finsac'd Entrepreneurs, Yola Gray-Baker, said at a media briefing on Thursday that the group was reliably informed that the Government has taken a decision to keep the report secret; and if that were the case they wanted to know why.
One of the FINSAC commissioners, investment banker Charles Ross, told the Financial Gleaner that "at the moment, nothing is being done on the report" and that he was not aware whether the Ministry of Finance has agreed to provide the extra funds requested to finalise it.
In September, the Ministry of Finance indicated that the commissioners had asked for 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, which it has since received.
Secretary to the FINSAC commission, Fernando dePeralto, who maintains dialogue with the Ministry of Finance, beyond saying that he has had no communication with that office in recent times, declined to comment further.
"I have nothing further to report on the matter. That's it," dePeralto said, when asked about the status of the report.
Information Minister Sandrea Falconer was said to be out of office until January and, therefore, her office could not respond to Gray-Baker's contention about the Government's plans in relation to the report.
no gov't response
The Office of the Prime Minister advised the Financial Gleaner to redirect questions to the Ministry of Finance, which, in turn, directed questions to the communications and public relations director, Cheryl Smith. Smith was not in office yesterday.
The finance ministry has also not responded to queries sent Wednesday as to whether it will grant all or any of the extra funds the commissioners requested.
And it is yet to respond to questions on whether the Government is prepared to forego the writing and submission of the report, the first part of which was expected to be delivered by April this year and the second part by August.
In October, chairman of the FINSAC Commission, Worrick Bogle, a chartered accountant, said the writing and completion of the report was totally dependent on the Ministry of Finance providing the necessary funds.
"We have done what they have asked us to do. It is now for them to provide the necessary funds," Bogle told the Financial Gleaner then.
At yesterday's briefing, Gray-Baker recounted the losses borne by debtors, their families and persons employed to more than 40,000 businesses that went under after FINSAC took over their properties, and in doing so, urged Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to say whether they have taken the decision not to have the report completed.
"Are you going to sweep FINSAC under the rug or will you do the right thing for the sake of the people and the nation you took an oath to serve?" Gray-Baker asked, directing the question to Simpson Miller.
She questioned whether criminal acts were perpetrated against the debtors and whether someone should be criminally charged as a result of the seizure and sale of their properties, noting that it was important for the FINSAC report to be done as it could clarify some of those issues.
The next move for the association will be to seek a meeting with Dr Phillips to urge completion of the report, and separately with former Finance Minister Audley Shaw, who commissioned the report and who previously raised the prospect of petitioning international agencies to pressure the Jamaican Government if the commissioners are not 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.
The commission was 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 the Government has spent J$65 million to finance the commission, and that there were outstanding bills for rental and other costs.