Millions for land owners

Michael Lashley

More than $150 million will have to be paid to Barbadian land owners whose properties are being acquired by Government.

The challenge for them and the state, Minister of Housing and Lands Michael Lashley said today, was that because there was not a lot of money to go around, payment for purchase of these holdings at more than 117 locations island wide would take some time.

The official also saw a need to amend the Land Acquisition Act to ensure the rights of Government and land owners selling property for the public good were not disadvantaged. Lashley was speaking in the House of Assembly this afternoon on a resolution for the abandonment of a large portion of land at Kendall Hill, Christ Church, the compulsory acquisition of which was approved in 1990.

Responding to suggestions raised by Barbados Labour Party spokesman, St. George North MP Gline Clarke that Government would have to do more to ensure land owners were compensated in a more timely manner, the minister said the matter was not a straightforward one.

“I can say that at this stage that there are acquisitions going on at some 117 locations throughout Barbados and the total value of those acquisitions is over $150 million,” the St. Philip North MP said.

“And it would be of course a strain and stretch for the Government in terms of getting those monies in a timely manner to the land owner.

“Private owners have plans for their lands and in some instances Government acquires land, utilises it for the purpose and then years after the former owner is out of pocket, no compensation and then he has to either seek the recourse of the law court and hope that he can have representation that can have the matter speedily resolved in relation to compensation,” he added.

Lashley said Government was looking at a solution to the problem, noting that “of course we have to look at compensation and what form too”.

“I have a whole list here dating back to … 1990 where lands were acquired and we are still grappling with the payment of compensation to them,” he said.

The minister also pointed to “instances where the Urban and Rural Development Commissions and Ministry of Transport and Works “moved on to people’s lands without properly notifying them and years after it lands back at the Ministry of Housing and lands to sort out whatever reasonable compensation we can have for them”.

“When you examine the facts … we have to certainly look at the Land Acquisition Act again and see what we can come up with of course to the interest and to the benefit of the Government and also the land owners,” he stated. (SC)

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