Those among us who continue to berate the Government for seeking to tap the National Housing Trust (NHT) to the tune of $44 billion over the next four years are like the man who cuts off his nose to spite his face.
Civil society group CaPi, the brainchild of the never-impressive former Jamaica Labour Party senator, Dennis Meadows, on Friday filed a motion in the court to challenge the legality of the withdrawal.
The issue for us is clear. The Government, in trying to run a primary surplus of 7.5 per cent, needs to either raise the $44 billion from other sources or cut expenditure by $11 billion each year for the next four years.
Maybe the Government should slice the $11 billion from the education budget, or maybe health. No, on second thought, spend less on national security and justice.
Or perhaps Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips should immediately withdraw the decision to take $11 billion from the NHT and collect that income through increased fuel tax.
Those are all painful consequences for unpatriotic actions such as a legal challenge. We invite Meadows, whose time was spent in the Senate warming benches, to offer a sensible alternative to tapping the NHT.
The Gavel does not share the view that the money should be borrowed from the Trust, as by all means the country should seek to prevent increasing the current debt stock.
We also struggle to understand the rationale for the argument that the money being taken out represents some illegal or immoral action. The fact is that NHT monies are contributions which are invested, and all NHT contributors are eligible to get back their monies when they become due. There is no solvency issue facing the NHT and thus the shouting of 'Fire!' in this crowded theatre has the potential to cause mass casualty.
We wonder how much blame Meadows and his band of attention-seeking friends are willing to accept if Jamaica fails to secure a board-level IMF deal and the economic calamities manifest themselves into social disturbances.
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