By Elesha George
On Thursday, October, 15th, 2020, government MPs will move to amend the Barbuda Land Act to make it lawful for Antiguans to purchase lands on the sister isle.
“It’s going to be on our order paper that the amendment to the Barbuda Land Act that was amended two years ago, would be before Parliament again and it is our intention to remove that restriction that prevents Antiguans from being able to own and acquire land in Barbuda,” said Information Minister, Melford Nicholas.
The government intends to remove a special category called ‘Barbudans’ which currently allows only persons of Barbudan descent to purchase or lease land on the island.
Last month, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said in Parliament that it was constitutional for Barbudans to be able to own land on Antigua, but the same condition could not be upheld for people born on Antigua, despite it being a unitary state.
Since his announcement, Barbuda MP and leader of the Barbuda Peoples Movement, Trevor Walker told Observer that he and founding BPM member Mackenzie Frank had finally been granted leave at the final court of appeal.
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will decide once and for all, who legally owns Barbuda lands.
However, in the meantime, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel “Max” Hurst said the June 2020 judgement of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) still stands and will allow the government to make the necessary changes to the Barbuda Land Act.
He explained that the law will remain as is unless the Privy Council votes in favour of Barbuda, which is when government would have to reverse Thursday’s decision.
This latest amendment follow years of dispute between the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) government and the BPM-led Barbuda Council. The relationship has become so untenable that in September parliamentarians debated a possible secession of Barbuda from Antigua.