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Shaw urges GG to push for Finsac enquiry completion

BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-Large South/Central Bureau myersg@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2012    

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SPALDING, Clarendon — Opposition spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw is again reminding Governor General Sir Patrick Allen that he has the authority to ensure that the work of the Finsac Commission of enquiry is completed regardless of considerations involving cost.

Speaking at a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Area Council Three meeting at the Spalding High School on Sunday, 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.

Shaw, who served as finance minister in the JLP Government of 2007-11, told party delegates that the enquiry into the financial sector collapse of the 1990s has "already cost the country over $140 million" and now needs more money for the commissioners "to do the finishing work and provide the report".

"It needs some more money for the provision of that report and I am telling (Finance Minister) Dr (Peter) Phillips and (former finance minister) Dr (Omar) Davies, Jamaica is not going to allow them to cover up the report into the collapse of the financial sector in Jamaica. By the hook or the crook the Ministry of Finance must provide the money," said Shaw.

"If the Ministry of Finance does not provide the money, I want from this platform, to remind the governor general of Jamaica that under the Contractor General's Act he has no obligation to go to the Ministry of Finance and beg for any money. In order to finance a commission of enquiry, under the Contractor General Act, the governor general makes a reasonable decision as to the cost of that commission and he is empowered under the Act to communicate directly with the accountant general, send the bill to the accountant general who shall pay the bill of the commission of enquiry. Until that Act is changed that is the Act that applies, and therefore

Dr Phillips should not see himself, as minister of finance, as an obstacle in the way of financing the outcome of this very critical report," said Shaw.

The commission last met in November 2011.

In July the Association of Finsac'd Entrepreneurs (AFE) told the Jamaica Observer it had appealed to the Governor General to intervene to have the commission resume.

Shaw said Sunday that "it is critical not just to find out who were the culprits -- we know them already -- what is critical is that every detail must be presented because one thing we know it must never happen again, that kind of a financial sector collapse, it must never happen in Jamaica, ever again."

The financial meltdown of the 1990s led to the collapse of several banks and other financial institutions and significant loss in savings and investments for thousands of Jamaicans. The crisis forced the People's National Party (PNP) Government of the time to spend billions of dollars in borrowed money to shore up the financial sector. It also triggered the enforcement of tighter regulations for the sector.

Shaw has repeatedly blamed the financial collapse and its consequences on alleged poor handling by the PNP Government and in particular Davies who was finance minister at the time.

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