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Finsac Commission to reopen office

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 22, 2012    

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THE office of the Finsac Commission of Enquiry, located at the Planning Institute of Jamaica building in Kingston, is likely to reopen by the end of the month.

Secretary to the commission, Fernando DePeralto, a former Bank of Jamaica executive, said yesterday that officers were making efforts to get the office reopened within two weeks. He added that the completion of the report into the probe of the 1990s financial sector meltdown and the role of the Government-owned Financial Sector Adjustment Company Limited (Finsac) in settling the debt, is expected to be the main objective after the reopening.

The commission's office has been closed since January due to a lack of funding from the Government.

Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Peter Phillips told Parliament in May that the Government would only provide enough funds to pay the stenographers to complete the report. However, Opposition Spokesperson on Finance Audley Shaw said the minister had "over-stepped his bounds", because the commissioners could appeal to the governor general for support to complete the work, under the Commissions of Enquiry Act. Shaw explained that the commission is protected against Government interference under the Act.

Last week, president of the Association of Finsac'd Entrepreneurs Yola Gray-Baker sent a written request to King's House seeking the intervention of Governor General Sir Patrick Allen. She said yesterday that she is awaiting a response from the governor general. The association represents a large number of the 40,000 plus entrepreneurs whose businesses collapsed under the weight of the 1990s meltdown, which was reputed to have cost Jamaica some 40 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Gray-Baker said her membership is convinced that the only hope for a mutually acceptable resolution of the issue lies with the governor general. She said, however, that in the interim, the commission's office could reopen channels of communications with the public, media and entrepreneurs.

Commissioners Worrick Bogle, chairman, and Charles Ross have not responded to requests from the Jamaica Observer, which has been seeking updates on plans to complete the report of the commission.

The commission, which had been sitting since September 2009, ended public hearings in November 2011. The enquiry has already cost the Government more than $50 million.

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