Thu | Aug 17, 2017

NHT battle: Court asked for injunction barring gov't from withdrawing funds from Trust

Published:Wednesday | June 22, 2016 | 6:42 PM
Three years ago, through an amendment to the NHT Act the government got the approval to withdraw $11.4 billion annually from the Trust starting in 2013.

Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer

The Lawyers for St James businessman Fitzroy Fagan this morning asked the High Court to grant an injunction barring the government from withdrawing anymore funds from the National Housing Trust (NHT).

The request by attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman came as the Constitutional Court began hearing a suit filed by Fagan challenging the decision of the Portia Simpson Miller administration four years ago to dig into the NHT's coffers to withdraw $45.6 billion for budgetary support.

Three years ago, through an amendment to the NHT Act the government got the approval to withdraw $11.4 billion annually from the Trust starting in 2013.

At that time, the government indicated that the funds were needed to help meet fiscal targets under Jamaica's extended fund facility with the International Monetary Fund.

The final $11.4 billion withdrawal is due this financial year.

However,  in making his submissions before the court Wildman argued that the intent of lawmakers when they created the NHT was to isolate it from the political executive.

As a result, he said the executive could not go there to take funds at will.

Wildman further said it is not the Minister of Finance who determines how NHT funds are spent but its the board of directors.

The panel of three high court judges hearing the case have indicated that if they find the actions of the Government unconstitutional, they can issue binding orders to have them  reversed.

The hearing is expected to end tomorrow.

The Attorney General, and attorneys representing the NHT and the Finance Minister are also expected to put forward their arguments.