Barbuda Council hits back at Cabinet’s claims that leases are being issued for land flipping

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(Photo courtesy Carib Journal)
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By Theresa Goodwin

[email protected]

The Barbuda Council has hit back at claims by central government that leases are being issued to council members’ relatives and friends for land earmarked for development on the sister isle for the purpose of flipping the plots.

Last week’s Cabinet notes claimed that the council was not authorised to issue leases, alleging it had become “common practice” for the smaller isle’s governing body to give them to relatives and friends, “purportedly giving control of land contiguous to projects that are under development with the expectation that those leases will subsequently be sold for very high prices to the principals of the development”.

“Those leases will not be honoured,” the notes added.

But the comments incurred a stormy response from Council Chairperson Jacqui Frank who told Observer the council was “well within its remit to issue leases to those organisations and individuals that meet the requirements/criteria for lands to be granted to them”.

She pointed out that the controversial repeal of the Barbuda Land Act 2007 – which states that all land in Barbuda is owned in common by the island’s people – was still being challenged in court.

“The long established and legally recognised land tenure system in Barbuda is meant for the benefit of Barbudans and their descendants, therefore it is highly likely that many of those receiving leases or permission to occupy lands may be related to one another,” Frank said.

“To date, the practice of flipping lands has become commonplace in Antigua – not Barbuda – because the aforementioned laws do not permit the sale of lands in Barbuda.

“Any such action is illegal in Barbuda,” Frank added.

The government repealed the Barbuda Land Act 2007 in 2018. The legal challenge to its revocation is being led by Member of Parliament for Barbuda, Trevor Walker, and Mackenzie Frank, founding member of the political party, the Barbuda People’s Movement.

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