Findings of FINSAC Commission to be presented in documentary form Loop Jamaica

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Jamaicans will be given full access to the findings of the FINSAC Commission that examined the meltdown of the financial sector in the 1990s.  

Rather than a traditional report despite the fact that $150 million was expended between 2009 and 2017, the information gathered by the FINSAC Commission is to be published on a specially curated website and made available to the public in perpetuity.

This was disclosed on Tuesday by Finance and Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, during his opening contribution to the 2024/25 Budget Debate.

Clarke said his Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MOFPS) will also provide grants for academic research to be published, as well as the creation of documentaries on the financial sector collapse “from which future generations can learn”.

As such, rather than a traditional report, the government will use the drafts of chapters of the report, in electronic form, along with thousands of pages of transcripts of evidence and submissions placed before the Commission, also in electronic form, to produce documentaries and issue calls for research into the FINSAC Commission Archives.

Clarke said this will be undertaken for the purposes of producing scholarly articles, books, and other publications on any, or all of the context, causes, consequences, and lessons of the financial sector crisis as well as an assessment of the responses.

“The FINSAC period was a defining period in Jamaica’s economic life. This was a financial sector crisis of a scale rarely seen in the world. It cost 40 per cent of GDP,” Clarke remarked.

“By comparison, the Global Financial Crisis of 2009 in which global banks collapsed, cost the United States nine per cent of GDP. Our financial sector crisis was five times worse than the impact of the worst global financial crisis in 100 years in the United States,” Clarke added.

He noted that tens of thousands of businesses failed and hundreds of thousands of individuals were adversely affected.

“Thousands lost homes, lost their livelihoods, and some lost their lives. The FINSAC crisis plunged Jamaica into deeper macro instability and resulted in a rapid build-up in our debt ratio that has taken us 30 years to reduce. It had the effect of obliterating opportunity as for decades interest costs consumed national resources,” said Clarke.

The finance minister pointed out that material gathered by the Commission consists of contributions from then government officials, economists, academics, former leaders of failed financial institutions, customers of those institutions including those who found themselves with ballooning debts, among many other stakeholders.