Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
GOVERNMENT SENATOR K.D. Knight, on Friday, retreated from the brink when he decided against describing some criticisms levelled against the Government for calling upon the National Housing Trust (NHT) to provide some $45 billion over four years for budgetary consolidation as anile.
Knight, in a debate in the Senate on a bill to amend the NHT Act to allow for the drawdown, said some of the opposition to the move is misplaced.
"Rather than being here and behave as if we are remorseful, we should be evangelists trying to take the country with us. ... not to take in some anile — no anile, I withdraw the word."
"Not to talk in some way as if we are locked in a lecture theatre. Sterility has no place in this Parliament," Knight said.
The word anile means old or feeble.
Knight challenged the Senate to look at the dynamics of the society and urged legislators to think of ways that will ensure that the country experiences economic growth.
"What we should be looking at, after the second year we should not need the third drawdown. In other words, our minds should be riveted on growth," Knight said.
Law for a better society
He also stopped short of saying the legislators should not allow themselves to be shackled by the law, arguing that "the law is not there to simply excite lawyers, the law is there so as to provide a better society".
"When we lock our minds now into some legal textbooks, we forget our role in this chamber."
Opposition Senator Tom Tavares Finson had argued in the debate that the withdrawal from the NHT constitutes a constitutional issue.
"The proposed amendment cannot lawfully achieve the purpose, because it is not a tax and the Government does not own the resources of the NHT and, therefore, cannot lawfully order the NHT to pay over funds to it," Tavares Finson said.
In the meantime, Knight said the decision to introduce the The National Housing Trust (NHT) (Amendment) (Special Provisions) Act was to provide cover for the Public Bodies Management Accountability Act, which Attorney General Patrick Atkinson said was being relied on as a basis for tapping the Trust.
"A person who is told, 'look, what you are doing is either wrong or could very well be wrong' and proceeds, is an idiot," Knight said.
He added: "What you do in those circumstances is that you have another look at what you are doing and how you are doing it, and if you find that there is room for doubt, then you pursue another path and, that is what this administration did."
"I don't think it is a trust. It is called a trust, but you can call anything a trust. but that does not make it a trust," Knight said.
"I agreed in my own mind that, without reliance on the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act, the path would have been unlawful," Knight said.
He added: "And although that act takes supremacy over other acts, I agree with the approach not to depend on that act, but to amend the act that deals specifically with the funds from which you want some assistance."