Government needs to tell Jamaicans the real mandate of NHT — political commentator
Attorney-at-law and political commentator Dr Paul Ashley says the Government needs to tell Jamaicans the real mandate of the National Housing Trust (NHT) after Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared that the agency is a financial institution and not a housing agency.
Prime Minister Holness made the declaration as he sought to defend his government's decision to take more than $11 billion from the agency to fund the administration's personal income tax relief election promise, a move he criticised while in opposition.
Ashley argues that the Prime Minister might be correct in saying that the NHT is a financial institution.
He says the prime minister's definition of the trust as a financial institution might be the result of the manner in which respective administrations have dipped into the coffers of the entity.
Ashley says the government is in a quandary, noting that it has billions of dollars in funds dedicated to housing, yet it cannot provide adequate houses for its beneficiaries.
According to him, the government has not built 10 per cent of the houses that are currently in demand by contributors.
The attorney says it would have to be established legally whether the NHT is a trust.
Ashley explains that money collected by a trust is used for particular purposes set out by its trust deed.
He says the people who contributed to the trust would decide for what purpose the funds are used and whether it would be used for their collective purpose.
On its website, the NHT says it is an organisation set up by the Government to lend money at low interest rates to contributors who wish to build, buy or repair/improve their houses.
The NHT also develops housing schemes for sale to contributors and provides low cost financing to private developers.