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Gov't tardy with lease deals

A former Minister of Housing and Lands has accused Government of being tardy in its lease arrangements with private interests, and in the process hurting its potential earnings.

To ease the backlog, Opposition St. George North MP, Gline Clarke, today urged the Freundel Stuart administration to contract private land surveyors.

He was speaking in the House of Assembly on a resolution where the University of the West Indies is leasing state land at Lower Collymore Rock St. Michael, which is being used by the Chronic Disease Research Centre.

Clarke, noting that completion of this specific lease arrangement was about five years in coming, said it was symptomatic of similar challenges involvement Government land across Barbados.

He claimed a number of leases were left on the desk of the present Minister of Housing and Lands Michael Lashley, including one for the Soroptimist Village of James Town West to build a senior citizens village in St. George, another involving St. George Agricultural Co-op, and other property in Christ Church.

“I am saying that there are several parcels of land within the Ministry of Housing and Lands that were subject to lease arrangements that we have not been able to complete at this time,” he said.

“I am saying that these arrangements cannot be completed because … the Ministry of Housing and Lands needed to be re-organised in terms of providing new facilities to encourage business within the ministry and within government.

“And I am saying further that if government takes the approach that you have to speed up some of these leases persons will be able not only to carry on their business in a timely manner, but also bring in revenue to government and to the people of this country, and I am saying that we need to look carefully within the Ministry of Housing and Lands at those approaches,” he added.

The former Minister of Public Works said it was difficult for some staff members in the Ministry of Housing and Lands “to get to the bottom of the picture because sometimes you do not know where the land exists, or the size of the land, you do not know if it is really Crown land or not”.

“A lot of those leases have been around for a long time and persons have been asking for renewal of the leases, which need to be completed at this time. Despite, Government is asking people to come forward I believe the slow approach that is happening within the various ministries have caused the country to come to a pace that we have never known and the government must govern,” he stated.

Clarke said hiring private surveyors was important because “you cannot go into a lease arrangement unless you have a surveying mechanism”. (SC)

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