When will the Finsac report be published, Dr Clarke?


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

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In 2008, the Jamaica Labour Party Government commissioned an enquiry into the collapse of the financial sector that occurred in the 1990s. The Financial Sector Adjustment Company (Finsac) report, as it has been popularly called, should have been published six months after, but after a whole decade and over $100 million of taxpayers' money later we are yet to see a report.

The commission has so far outlasted two finance ministers and now seems set to outlast a third, Dr Nigel Clarke. In a recent statement, Clarke noted, with a hint of frustration, that he cannot give a timeline as to when the report will be published. The best he could offer is that it will soon be with us. This understanding was as far back as April. We are, months after, still waiting.

The lacklustre approach of both the Government and the commissioners in this matter merits the greatest reproach of the Jamaican people. A lot of money has been spent on this enquiry, yet 10 years after we can get no iron-clad guarantee that a report will be ready any time soon.

The Government must come clean with the people and let us know exactly what is going on and whether we should even expect that a report will be given. The minister of finance owes it to us to end the charade and declare an end to the process or put some fire under the commissioners' rear ends to come up with something.

Former Minister of Finance Audley Shaw has been the most passionate about getting the report done. But in his first attempt he failed to get one. During the People's National Party' (PNP) time in office it sat in a damp corner of a room gathering mould. In the second iteration of Shaw, more money was allocated to a clearly disinterested bunch of commissioners to get the job done. He has now left and the passion for a report has seemingly drained from the Ministry of Finance.

At the very least we need an interim statement from the commissioners as to what is being done and how they are spending and have spent taxpayers' money to do what they are doing. They have clearly lost steam for one reason or the other, but public accountability can no longer indulge their recalcitrance in accounting to the people who have paid them generously from the public purse.

Do not expect the Opposition to raise a voice about the report. They would relish the thought to call out the Government on this, but they know that they have no moral standing in the matter. From the very beginning they had no interest in the enquiry. The collapse of the financial sector happened under their watch. Many businesses, large and small, were decimated and people got sick, died or otherwise committed suicide. This sick episode in the financial life of this country should cause the PNP more than a wince when the subject comes up. How the enquiry survived their four years in office is a miracle in itself. It is a matter they would soon forget and hope that the people would also.

It must be conceded that with the passage of time and the new dynamics in the domestic and global economy that the enquiry into something that happened almost 20 years ago is no longer timely and may be of little moment. Even Finsac itself is a mere shell, as most of the assets under its charge were sold out to an American debt investor who went on to establish the Jamaica Redevelopment Foundation. One does not know the character or value of the redevelopment that was ever done by this company. What we do know is that people's assets were sold out to this investor for measly sums, in some instances for 30 cents on the dollar. What we do know is that lives and businesses were wrecked. We will never know how much foreign exchange left Jamaica as the American debt investors repatriated their gains. The cruel and tragic irony of this experience cannot be missed except by the most inhumane amongst us.

The economic dynamics might have changed, and one believes they have, but the people have a right to know what is going on. There might be more important matters occupying the mind of Dr Clarke and the Government he serves, but he must demand from the commissioners a definite timeline when the report can be published. He must bring an end to it and ensure that it does not trespass into yet another budget debate.

The PNP may not care about it, but there are still a number of people out here who do. Chief among them are the friends and relatives that have suffered immensely under the devastation wrought by the collapse. We owe it even to the memory of those who were affected and died earlier than they otherwise would have.

Dr Clarke, you have a lot on your plate, but as far as Finsac is concerned you ought to declare that enough is enough!

Dr Raulston Nembhard is a priest and social commentator. Send comments to the Observer or

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