‘Residents’ out of Land Act amendment

Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin Photo source: ablp

Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, Attorney General, has said that a highly contentious clause of the Barbuda Land Management (Amendment) Act 2017, which many feared would avail Barbudan lands to all and sundry, has been rephrased. The clause is found in Section 2 (ii) of the original draft of the Bill as it circulated to members of parliament last week.

It states in part that the to-be-amended Land Act 2007 will, once amended, describe itself as, “An Act to provide for residents of Barbuda to have equal rights to purchase the freehold of land.” Mackenzie Frank, executive member of the Barbuda Peoples Movement (BPM) last week called the use of the word “resident” an attempt to qualify people born outside of the island of Barbuda but who take up residence there to be landowners.

Yesterday Benjamin said, “That has been completely removed from the legislation.” He also said that the definition of Barbudan as laid out in the original draft was also narrowed and will now include “somebody born in Barbuda or somebody, one of whose parents was born in Barbuda.”

The definition proposed in the first draft included a person married to a Barbudan who had been living with their spouse in Barbuda for at least five years priorto the commencement of the Act. “This Bill is purely a Barbudan Bill. Only Barbudans born there or someone whose parents were born there will be able to benefit from the Bill,” the Attorney General reiterated.

The BPM has said that it opposes the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) government’s move to amend the Barbuda Land Act 2007 which Gaston Browne, prime minister, has argued is “unconstitutional.”

(More in today’s Daily Observer)