Increased opposition to controversial land act

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Members of the country’s main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), and several Barbudans living in Antigua are still objecting to planned changes to the Barbuda Land Act. They mounted a picket outside the Parliament building yesterday while the Lower House met to debate the controversial bill.
A similar action took place in Barbuda with residents who have returned to the sister island after hurricane Irma. Marching and chanting “human rights, land rights,” and “first the sand, now the land” the over 50 protestors in Antigua demonstrated their opposition to the bill.
For over 300 years Barbudans have practised communal land ownership, where the land is held in common by the people and administered by the local government (Barbuda Council) on behalf of the people. However, the central government is seeking to amend the 2007 Act which would require them to pay forthe lands.
The Barbudans are of the view that the Act should be withdrawn from Parliament. Fabian Jones, a former member of the Barbuda Council and chairman of the Barbuda Peoples Movement (BPM) said his party hopes that the law will never see the light of day.
“Cocoa Point Hotel has been in Barbuda for over 60 years on the lease, so there is a success for lease lands. You can get a loan from a bank with a lease, you can also get insurance for your house without having a title for the land,” Jones said. Princess Harris-Parker, a born Barbudan living in Antigua, expressed concerns about a clause within the Act which referred to a Barbudan as a resident.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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