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GG seeking advice on Finsac issue

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, September 20, 2012    

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GOVERNOR General Sir Patrick Allen is seeking advice on what steps he can take to bring closure to the Finsac Commission of Enquiry.

This was confirmed by Sir Patrick's special adviser, Ambassador Evadne Coye, in response to an Association of Finsac'd Entrepreneurs' (AFE) request for an update on their letter requesting his intervention into the issue.

King's House reported that the governor general had discussed the matter with some "highly relevant officials" and was awaiting their response.

AFE President Yola Gray-Baker had written to the governor general on August 23 seeking his intervention in "finding out, as well as having resolved, whatever issues that are causing the delay in the written preliminary, as well as the final report" of the commission.

"Governor General Sir, it is imperative to us debtors, having been labeled as 'bad debtors' who borrowed funds with no intention to repay, that the findings of the commission be made public, so those of us who are still currently experiencing difficulties in obtaining financing to continue to make a living may feel some form of justice and not continue to carry the guilt, as has happened with others, to our graves," the AFE said in its letter to Sir Patrick.

But while the 'victims' of the 1990s financial sector meltdown await the GG's response, there is no indication when the commission will reopen its office, which was relocated to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) building, Oxford Road, Kingston after the public enquiry ended last November but has been closed since January.

Secretary to the commission, Fernando Deperalto, who had indication in mid-August that the office would reopen by the end of the month, was unable to give a firm date for the reopening. "As soon as the commissioners are in a position they will make a public statement. I am not in a position to say anything more," he said.

Just last week Opposition Spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw reminded Sir Patrick that he has the authority to ensure that the work of the commission is completed, regardless of considerations involving cost. Shaw reiterated previous pronouncements that under the Contractor General's Act, the governor general is empowered to ensure that funding is provided to complete the report.

Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips told Parliament in May that in the current fiscal situation, the only further expenditure contemplated by government "is the payment of stenographers' fees". However, Shaw has insisted that the more than $65 million spent so far was a small price to pay for the enquiry's completion.

The commission, appointed in October 2008, sat between September 2009 and November 2011, but with several delays triggered by court actions against the commissioners.

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