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JAM | Jan 31, 2023

Isn’t it a tad much to expect Dr Nigel Clarke to respond immediately to everything that comes into the Ministry of Finance?

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Dr Nigel Clarke, minister of finance and the public service.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke has been nailed to the cross for first declaring that he had no prior knowledge of the concerns that would later result in the Stocks and Securities Ltd (SSL) scandal and then later amending his position, revealing the Financial Services Commission (FSC) sent a report to his office on April 3, 2020 which was received on April 15, 2020.

Everyone and their dog has taken to Youtube and social media to castigate Dr Clarke, some even calling for his resignation. There sure are a lot of “media personalities and professionals “out there!

Some of the reasons proffered as to why the Minister of Finance did not respond to the FSC report are worthy of a plot line in a Tom Clancy novel.

The Barbados Avenue headquarters of the Financial Services Commission. (Photo: Facebook @FSCJamaica)

Running a big organisation is not easy and leaders depend on their managers to bring pertinent matters to their attention in a timely fashion. A failure to do so inevitably leads to problems in the future with the question posed,” who knew about this?”

If the Minister of Finance has to sit down and open every piece of correspondence, he would have no time to attend to the finances of the state.

Now that would be a real problem!

Delegation is key and it is incumbent on staff to notify the boss as to matters that require his attention.

If Dr Clarke was not made aware of the FSC’s report on SSL, then he has no way of knowing its contents.

The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service in Kingston, Jamaica.

To drop off a letter or envelope at the Ministry of Finance addressed for “The Attention of the Minister of Finance,” is no guarantee he will get to read it quickly. To top things off, the correspondence was dropped off just as the COVID-19 had arrived in Jamaica, disrupting the operations of government offices and making it arguably more understandable than at any other time if his focus was on what many would have then considered more pressing matters.

Where were the follow ups? Did anyone from the FSC get in touch directly with the Minister of Finance to alert him that the report was sent and needed an expeditious response?

It is now obvious that it was received at the Ministry of Finance on April 15, 2020 and that it was sent both physically and electronically. But who is responsible for ensuring Dr Clarke lays eyes upon it? 

Some say he got an invitation to attend Shenseea’s album launch party which he received and attended but failed to act on this FSC report and is now claiming ignorance. That arrow has hit the target. 

Someone has to pay a price for this lack of competence. It’s another case of lack of accountability and not just at SSL.

Dr Clarke went before the nation and said: “Let me state categorically, that in approximately five years service as Minister of Finance and the Public Service neither the FSC Board of Commissioners nor the FSC Executive Director nor any person from the FSC has ever raised SSL with me in any way.”

Now, when he said this so stridently a week ago, he may very well have believed it, unaware that it was sent for his attention.

This brings a new dimension to this whole sorry affair which, despite proclamations to the contrary, has undermined confidence in the financial sector. When you have young dancehall fellas singing “SSL , where di money deh?” you know the saga has connected with the national consciousness and it is paying close attention.

When Dr Clarke was crafting that statement, didn’t anyone see fit to point out this was not the case and a report was sent to him in early April 2020? He would have appreciated the early correction and it would have caused him a lot less bother than it is now.

Dr Nigel Clarke, minister of finance and the public service, on January 29, 2023 posted an image from the Financial Services Commission’s report on Stocks and Securities Ltd, after learning it had been sent to his office in April 2020.

People are now asking why did it take three years to come to light and are looking at the Ministry of Finance with apprehension and skepticism at a time when Dr Clarke’s authority and stewardship should be unassailable.

Do Jamaican government ministers get a Red Box and why wasn’t the FSC report placed in Dr Clarke’s, thus seeing to it that it was made a priority? It cannot be that a matter of this magnitude is simply dropped off at the front desk.

Institutions and corporations receive a myriad of correspondence and missives and it is for the gatekeepers to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Just like at SSL, no one was paying attention, no one was doing their job, there was a clear absence of professionalism. 

Now that the ineptitude is uncovered for the world to see, the finger-pointing is under way.

This is exactly why there is a lack of confidence out there and everyone is diligently checking their accounts.

If it is that Jamaica’s professional classes, whether they be in government or the investment sector, cannot be relied upon to do their jobs and communicate effectively, then we are in serious trouble.


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