Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller again defended her government's planned $44-billion drawdown from the National Housing Trust (NHT) and yesterday launched a blistering attack on her critics, who she challenged to come up with credible alternatives.
The prime minister said that the annual $11-billion drawdown from the trust is to assist with Jamaica's $1.7-trillion debt and would be done over a four-year period. She insisted that it would not affect the NHT's ability to carry out its mandate for the provision of housing solutions because the $44 billion is from the trust surplus funds, build up through fiscal prudence, financial propriety, responsibility and sound investment.
"As I acknowledge the work of the NHT, for building houses and communities for Jamaicans, I also wish to acknowledge its role in helping to build Jamaica and its economy at this critical time," said Simpson Miller, while delivering the keynote address at the official opening of the NHT's Longville Park Phase Three housing development in Clarendon.
"I have heard a lot of criticism, but I don't listen to them because if you surround yourself with negativity, negativity will surround you. But those who are chatting about the prudence of taking the money from the NHT must also chat with their own solutions," she said to thunderous applause.
She said the alternative to taking the $44 billion from the NHT would be to tax construction material, among other basic necessities, that would make housing unaffordable and out of the reach of many Jamaicans, including NHT contributors.
"What the NHT has done is to help to contribute to build the country and to assist with the growth of the economy. The Government has a choice, either to approach the NHT or to raise taxes even more, or to apply additional taxes," she added.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller also handed out keys to 882 new homeowners in the Longville Park Phase Three housing development which she said cost $4.8 billion to construct.