Amendments will lead to Antiguan land ownership on Barbuda – MP Massiah

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Independent parliamentarian Joanne Massiah says the proposed changes to the Barbuda Land Act opens the door to Antiguans eventually owning land on the sister isle, a charge the government has not denied.
The amendments before the Lower House include a provision which restricts land ownership under a freehold title system to Barbuda-born individuals, or those whose parents, or a parent, were born on the island. But that has not eased the fears of some Barbudans who view the proposed changes as a land grab by the government.
During Thursday’s debate on the Barbuda Land (Amendment) Bill, Sir Robin Yearwood, a government parliamentarian, had argued that the bill should have expressly made provisions for Antiguan land ownership in Barbuda. It was in response to this position that Massiah made her observations.
“The member went on to say that Antiguans have a constitutional right to own land in Barbuda as well. And this is where the Barbudans are very suspicious of the real intent of this bill and this is why you hear terms like land grab,” Massiah stated.
“You are saying that there is no difference really between an Antiguan and a Barbudan because it is one unitary state and what is good for one is good for the other so come right out and say that all of us will be entitled to own land because this is where this is going next. This is the first amendment; the second amendment will come,” she added.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who followed Massiah in the debate, acknowledged that such a move was inevitable, though not imminent.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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