Dialogue before changing the law says opposition leader

Jamal Pringle

The leader of the Opposition United Progressive Party, Jamale Pringle, has joined the Barbuda MP in calling on the government to consult before repealing the Barbuda Land Act.

In his debut debate in the Lower House this morning (Thursday), Pringle said that the change to the system of land use was being forced on Barbudans.

Pringle said the government should consult with Barbudans and other political parties to come to an amicable decision.

The Bill that will repeal the Barbuda Land Act of 2007 is the Crown Lands Regulation Amendment Bill 2018.

The ruling Antigua Barbuda Labour Party government’s position is that the prohibition on land ownership stipulated in the Land Act is a barrier to a real estate and property market which could add to the economy of the sister isle.

It has also repeatedly argued that the planned freehold ownership will be more useful for Barbudans who will seek loans to rebuild their homes.

The Land Act also states that no one can own land and all land shall be leased. Barbudans are given preferential rights to the lease of land ahead of others.

In his contribution to the debate last week on the newly proposed law to change all this, Barbuda MP, Trevor Walker urged the government to consult Barbudans.

But the government has refused and is also arguing that the provision regarding land ownership is discriminatory against citizens of Antigua and Barbuda who are not born Barbudans.

Walker’s party, the Barbuda Peoples Movement which controls the Barbuda Council, has argued that the people of the sister isle have enjoyed preferential use of the land for generations.

And that the prohibition against freehold ownership has prevented the encroachment of developers on the land in Barbuda.

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