Government concessions offered to Robert DeNiro’s Paradise Found LLC could see hundreds of acres of land on Barbuda fall into the hands of foreign investors “free of charge”.
Chairman of Barbuda’s opposition party, the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM), MacKenzie Frank, appeared on Sunday’s Big Issues where he asserted that a provision in the document stood to essentially give away Barbuda’s land.
OBSERVER media has acquired a copy of a government document dated November 28, 2014 which details the leasing of 551 acres of land on Barbuda for the next 198 years for the sum of just a little more than US$6 million.
However, according to section 1.2.7 of the document, “if during the term of the New Lease, freehold title is available in Barbuda, GOAB (Government of Antigua & Barbuda) agrees to facilitate the immediate conversion of the leasehold land under the New Lease to freehold title.”
“That is totally ridiculous,” Frank declared. “You paid 5.2 million for 200 years with an additional million, and if it happens that the law changes you walk away with the lands of Barbuda free of charge. Now, that to me demonstrates that there is something behind how that lease is being presented.”
Another concession MacKenzie found problematic were the agreements attached to a joint venture arrangement for a new airport on Barbuda.
According to the document, Paradise “is currently undertaking feasibility studies concerning the construction of a new airport on Barbuda, capable of landing private and small commercial jets.”
Section 3.22 of the agreement says government has agreed to undertake the development of the new airport as a joint venture. The land will be chosen by government and failure to do so, Paradise will select the spot.
“To facilitate the allocation process, three locations will be identified at this time, one of which will be selected over the next six months by government and in default of the selection, the selection will be made by Paradise.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)