Fatal Conceit: The NHT – An Error of Socialism

6 Jan

The NHT: Engendering a National Debate.                       The idea of a National Housing Trust, is at once grandiose and simple, we may say, in fact that it is one of the most ambitious creations of the Jamaican spirit, so magnificent, so daring that it has rightly aroused the greatest admiration. If we wish to save Jamaicans from perpetual homelessness and the scourge of ‘squatting’, we must rethink the NHT but we cannot thrust it carelessly aside.While the opposition continues to flag the issue of the ‘OutameniPurchase’ for all the political mileage and rightly so too, since that is what political parties do and while the public at large continue to raise eyebrows and drop jaws, the real issues: the true role and function of the NHT in particular and the selection, composition and capacity of the boards of public bodies, generally, continue to elude public debate.The present controversy provides the nation with the opportunity to impartially assess the functions and performance of the Trust in the context of the provisions of the NHT Act. We must return to Hansard to determine the thought processes and original intended purpose of the trust as envisioned by the framers, for it is inconceivable that the intended purpose of the Trust was to become a slush fund for government while 75% of contributors are unfit to access the promised benefits of the Trust; which raises the ultimate question; is the NHT the most efficient means of adding to and improving the existing housing stock? – The primary function of the Trust under the Act.Therefore while the ‘Outameni Purchase’ has rightly elicited public outrage and political points scoring the country will be further disadvantaged if we let slip, this, the ultimate point of departure to at least impartially inquire into the functions, purpose and performance of the trust, with the aim of deciding whether the NHT is the most efficient or even a desirable means of adding to and improving the existing housing stock.  For while me might be alarmed at the inability of the majority of contributors to meet the qualifying criteria, any reduction in the qualifying criteria increases exponentially, the  risks of default and non-performing loans which would inevitability impair the Trust’s future prospects, somewhere on the scale of the Students Loan Bureau. All of which ultimately means the NHT has conceived and presently contrived is unable to provide affordable housing for the majority of contributors and herein lies the major contradiction of the NHT.The ‘Outameni Purchase’ highlights the systemic inefficiencies in the management of public bodies due to lack of capacity and a clear understanding of the role and true functions of the agencies especially at the board level, which ultimately, is the province of political operatives.The NHT board was called on to make a decision theultimate impact of which was at best unclear to the decision makers, rendering them ill equipped. In the corporate world people would have lost jobs since any audit opinion on the purchase will almost certainly, at best, be a qualified opinion since the transaction contravenes almost every cannon of a reasonably sound one between parties at arm’s length. Strangely though the Trust is a body corporate under the NHT Act however the composition of the boards and by extension the ‘Outameni Purchase’ hardly reflects that fact; wherein lies the crux of the matter – the NHT is an attempt to superimpose a socialist superstructure on a corporate infrastructure, creating a wedding cake mixture –
essentially ephemeral.

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