KINGSTON — Former People’s National Party (PNP) Member of Parliament and Minister of Water and Housing in the 1990s administration, Dr. Karl Blythe, on Thursday July 14, 2011 urged the FINSAC Enquiry to determine if all FINSAC debtors were treated equally.
Dr. Blythe said that the critical point in the Commission’s terms of reference was to determine whether or not debtors were treated fairly by FINSAC, and the Jamaican Redevelopment Foundation, the U.S. owned company which eventually bought the bad debts.
He told the Commission that although some of his political colleagues were given special treatment of their debts, his efforts at similar treatment were flatly rejected by the JRF, who insisted that his outstanding principal and interest must be paid in full. He noted that, at the time, he was a vice-president of the PNP vying with some of his colleagues to succeed former Prime Minister, the Most Hon P.J. Patterson, as leader of the party.
Dr. Blythe said that he was advised by the late Dennis Joslin, former boss of the JRF that he could not convince his principals tow write off any part of his debt, and that he (Joslin) was instructed that “when it comes to any adjustments in your debts, the Ministry of Finance, as well as FINSAC, would have to agree”.
“Look at the value of the debt, look at the value of the assets securing the debt, examine the write off and the terms of repayment and conclude from this, whether they were treated the same as those debtors who testified before you, including me,” Dr. Blythe urged the Commission.
“It was clear to me that I was to be treated differently, and they would be in no hurry to settle the debts,” he said, noting that the matter is now before the court. At last count, he said that the $1 million loan he had taken over from his father had ballooned to over $43 million by 2005.
Dr. Blythe was testifying at the FINSAC Commission of Enquiry at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston. The Commission is enquiring into the causes of 1990s financial sector meltdown and the role of the Government-owned Financial Sector Adjustment Company (FINSAC) in the recovery of the sector and the outstanding bad debts.
When the enquiry resumes Thursday, Dr. Blythe will be cross examined by lawyers for FINSAC and JRF.
By BALFORD HENRY, JIS Reporter & Editor