Tue | Oct 16, 2018

NHT constitutional challenge set for next May

Published:Wednesday | November 19, 2014 | 9:16 AM

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

The Constitutional Court will next year hear the challenge brought against the Government over its decision to withdraw $45 billion from the National Housing Trust.

The constitutional motion, filed by the group Citizens Action for Principle and Integrity on behalf of St James businessman, Fitzroy Fagan, is to be heard next May.

The NHT, Finance Minister, Dr Peter Phillips, and the Attorney General are the defendants.

Fagan is contending that withdrawal of the funds from the NHT is a breach of his constitutional right to property under Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

He claims that if the NHT Board hands over the money to the Government, he will be deprived of his right to his contribution.

Fagan, who is being represented by attorneys-at-law Hugh Wildman and Marvalyn Taylor-Wright, is seeking a declaration from the Constitutional Court that taking the money from the trust amounts to a breach of the Constitution.

The NHT is paying tranches of $11.4 billion to the government over a four-year period.

The money is for budgetary support as part of the government's deal with the International Monetary Fund.

In a witness statement filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, acting NHT managing director, Martin Miller, said the mission of the Trust, which was established in 1976 under the NHT Act, is to increase and enhance the availability of housing in Jamaica.

Miller further said that the mission is also to provide financial assistance to its contributors who wish to build, to buy or to repair their homes.

He said the NHT had never treated the money it holds as trust funds.

Martin's witness statement was filed by the law firm Hylton Powell.

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