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Sunday 20 October 2019
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Imbert: J'ca minister sets central bank salaries

Finance Minister Colm Imbert, left, and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi during Parliament on Friday. PHOTO BY KERWIN PIERRE
Finance Minister Colm Imbert, left, and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi during Parliament on Friday. PHOTO BY KERWIN PIERRE

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert said in Jamaica and other jurisdictions the minister of finance determines salaries for central bank officials and can authorise the disclosure of any information.

He was contributing to debate Friday on The Miscellaneous Provisions (Tax Amnesty, Pensions, Freedom of Information, National Insurance, Central Bank and Non Profit Organisations) Bill 2019.

Imbert said he has seen commentary in the newspapers on Section 56 of the Central Bank Act that "makes absolutely no sense" and a lot of the commentary is self-serving and a lot of it is wild, speculative commentary, not evidence-based or data-driven.

"It is just people talking."

He said seen some statements in the newspapers that the change is unprecedented and doesn't exist anywhere in the world. He pointed out, however, that in Jamaica, a Caricom country, the finance minister sets the salaries, terms and conditions and allowances for the governor, senior deputy governor and deputy governor of the central bank. He also said the Jamaican finance minister can authorise the central bank to disclose any information.

Imbert said in India the only information not disclosed by the central bank is credit information. He said in Australia and Barbados their act allows disclosure of any information to the minister.

"What I find terribly perverse from some of the commentary that I have seen outside there is that the commentators are demanding freedom of information from the Government. The commentators are condemning the Government to give more freedom of information. Condemning the Government for interfering with the Freedom of Information Act. Making a set of noise about how sacrosanct is the public's right to know. Demanding disclosure of any and all information as it relates to international treaties, relationships with foreign governments, matters that are protected by privilege in international tribunals. The commentators outside there saying all of this must be disclosed. But when it comes to the Central Bank nothing must be disclosed."

Former Central Bank governor Euric Bobb and others have expressed concern about Clause 9 of the bill which will give the finance minister the authority to direct the governor of the Central Bank to disclose information about staff salary and other information.

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