The Gleaner - February
IMF: Name the debtors
- Government says disclosure would hamper recovery.
THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) wants the Government to
publish the names and the amounts of all defaulting borrowers aided by the
Financial Sector Adjustment Company (FINSAC) to enhance collection and
This is contained in the recently released annual IMF staff report on
Jamaica, a full copy of which has been obtained by The Gleaner. The report
also quotes the Government has saying the publication of names would
hamper its rehabilitation of the economy.
At the start of the 61-page document's section headed Structural Issues,
the question of whether bad debtors should be named was tackled by the
nine-man IMF mission team that studied the performance of the economy.
The report said: "In order to improve collection on non-performing
loans and enhance accountability the mission recommended that the
list of names and amounts of all defaulting borrowers be made
It adds: "The (Jamaican) authorities took note of these
recommendations, but expressed a view that publication of defaulters would
perhaps make it more difficult to move ahead with corrective
The news that the IMF's assessment team called for the publishing of names
and details re-ignites an argument which has raged since the Government
said it would bail-out the thousands of depositors and pensioners in banks
and insurance companies.
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, Finance Minister Dr. Omar Davies and
Financial Sector Adjustment Company managing director Patrick Hylton have
repeatedly said they would not publish names of depositors and claimed
that the law would not allow it.
Allegations of political interference and bias have surfaced a number of
times since FINSAC was set up in 1997 to administer the Government's
FINSAC's gross obligations after taking over a range of banks, insurers
and related operations was put at $95.2 billion at the end of September.
Its non-performing loan portfolio was acquired for $28.8 billion and
represented 10,290 accounts.
Some 794 have been subject to foreclosure or seizure of assets, largely
real estate. Another 1,523 accounts with a value of $6.5 billion have been
subject to restructuring and rescheduling. A total of $403.8 million in
principal and interest payments had been written off at the end of
Minimal detail of who has benefited from the restructuring has been given
out by FINSAC.
FINSAC boss Patrick Hylton argued last July that the depositors could not
be named because of legal considerations. "We have maintained that
the law pertaining to banker-customer confidentiality prevents us from
disclosing the information to the public."
However, that defence does not appear to have stopped the IMF from calling
for the names to be published with full details of which companies and
individuals have benefited from state aid.
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