by Kavon Fiennes
At RightFromYaad we have been waiting to hear someone, anyone, from the legal fraternity to explain the constitutionality of the incumbent (PNP) government’s proposed J$11 billion annual raid on National Housing Trust Funds (The govt announced in parliament on Feb 12th its plans to take J$ 45 billion from the NHT, over the next 4 years). I assume it is just because the money is sitting there doing nothing.
The NHT contribution paid by salaried workers, is an involuntary “tax”, taken from persons and deposited into a fund which allows its ‘contributors’ to access low interest loans to purchase or build property. We should of course note, that the majority of those who are able to access such loans are higher income earners! No one even challenges the “good intentions” of government (who passed the NHT Act) with this fact. The burden of evidence shows that the NHT, in effect, forces low income earners to subsidize high income earners in home or land purchasing. Things have seriously gone awry.
That being said, we are happy to point out that in today’s online Gleaner, Attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman makes the case that the government is acting illegally in taking the NHT funds:
“The attorney argues that the funds are the property of the depositors under the National Housing Trust (NHT) Act, and so the Government cannot pass a law, whether it be primary or subsidiary legislation, to take funds from contributors.”
This is in total contradiction to evidence brought to light by the NHT Chairman, Easton Douglas (a former PNP minister of government mind you):
“….(Douglas) argued that the Public Bodies and Management Accountability Act gives the Minister of Finance authority to require the NHT to a make financial contribution in support of the Government’s fiscal initiatives.”
Who is correct? Who has legal grounds to defend their position? Govt MP, Raymond Pryce in softening the ‘fallout’ of the NHT raid by govt, wrote a column in yesterday’s Sunday Gleaner, and states:
“….the NHT, however, has accumulated significant resources points to the ability through sensible taxation and the setting up of special-purpose funds in the first place. The management of these funds and allocating resources to address national needs are to be better coordinated under a Central Treasury Management System which, if properly implemented, should see Government having better sight of, oversight for, and improved capacity to better allocate the state’s limited resources towards economic and social development.”
These guys are really something else! They always know what’s best for our money only if they properly implement some program. Just give them the chance to prove it.
The proof of the pudding has been in the eating with economic stagnation of the Jamaican economy over the past 40 years. The government genuinely believes that this NHT money is theirs, and whenever it suits them they can simply unilaterally take it without consultation with depositors and without our consent.
There is something morally wrong with the activities of the state. They have no moral authority to act in this fashion. People wake up.
Kavon Fiennes is creator of the RightFromYaad blog. He is a 30-something year old ‘Black’, sometimes ‘Brown’, Jamaican. He is a former socialist, nationalist and Democrat, turned Libertarian and semi-conservative since his mid 20′s. He still holds lingering left-wing views on the way society ought to treat the destitute and elderly.