“Bradshaw and then Simmonds played their significant roles securing the land for our people from the colonialist and the slavish mentality of the Denzil Douglas led Government seems to be on a path of returning all those lands back to the colonialists ,” Hamilton opined.
Hamilton further stated “If lands are to be sold they must be sold to our people not to foreign investors. Foreign investors, if they are truly serious about investing, should be willing to lease the land to construct their projects and properties rather than the government selling the people’s land and eventually shrinking the opportunity for our children and grand children to own a piece of the rock.”
In a recently released IMF Executive Board Article IV Consultation with St. Kitts and Nevis report the IMF Directors underscored the need for structural fiscal reforms over the medium term to underpin fiscal and debt sustainability. The Directors further stated that Given that fiscal adjustment alone will not be sufficient to achieve fiscal and debt sustainability, they encouraged the authorities to speed up land sales and to consider seeking financial support from multilateral institutions.
Thousands of acres of government lands became available after the closure of the Sugar Industry in 2005. Since then thousands have been sold to foreign entities including almost 300 acres at Lavallee and 400 acres at Kittitian hill. The Lavallee Project was first announced in 1999 and the Kittitian Hill Project in 2005.
Neither project has gotten off the ground, however, the lands are in the hands of the foreign investors in both projects. In contrast, CUOPM Press Releases of April 1 2008 and February 2009 indicated the allocation of less than 150 acres of lands for the purpose of cultivation by local farmers. In a statement made by Prime Minister Douglas in a news story published on WINN FM, the Prime Minister stated that 70 acres in the Estridge, Phillips, Mansion and Old Road areas would be leased to small farmers, to facilitate the expansion of their crop and livestock production.
In the CUOPM release of April 1st 2008 it stated, “A total of 40 acres of new land has been approved in these three areas, and another 30 acres in the Old Road area for prompt distribution to other farmers who have recently applied for land.”
PAM’s MP Hamilton expressed grave concern in the disparity in the amount of lands allocated for locals and those sold to foreigners. He also commented on the method of the land transactions.
“I must express concern and gross opposition to the government’s land distribution and sale policy, which seems to favour foreigners over hardworking local farmers,” said MP Hamilton. “While less than 200 acres of land according to the CUOPM Press Releases were allocated and LEASED to local farmers, almost 1000 acres were SOLD to foreign investors in just 2 projects during a similar period. This disparity is cause for concern for our people, “Hamilton maintained.
“It must not be accepted by our citizens that foreigners can own while the locals lease. In recent transactions Government has been offering lease arrangements to locals for an uneconomic period of just five years. That is a tragedy as it suggests that the Government is not serious about encouraging our nationals to invest in businesses. Five year leases?”Hamilton orated.
As outlined in the 2010 manifesto, the Peoples Action Movement’s land use policy dealing with foreign investors is through lease arrangements.
Hamilton went on to comment further on the IMF report, “The IMF report is a very sobering document and it clearly outlines how far into the depth of economic despair this Labour administration has driven this country”, said MP Hamilton.
“Our nation faces a serious problem brought about by a Government that over fifteen years has mismanaged the economy, wasted our scarce resources and bankrupted the country. Year after year, deficit budget after deficit budget. There is no reason to believe that if we wake up every morning doing the same thing that we will see a different result. If anything is to change; if a new direction is to be followed, the Government which is the problem must be removed,” stated Hamilton