The meetings have been called to dialogue with members of the various communities who have been affected by a recent government decision to swap 1,200 acres of sugar lands to the National Bank of the country, as part of a deal to reduce and or eliminate some EC$900 million worth of debt owed to the bank.
However, the measure has not gone down well with many citizens and the opposition party has seized on the opportunity to amplify the concerns of those residents who are against the move.
The PAM has claimed that the action is tantamount to a sale of the patrimony of the people of St. Kitts, after so much effort was made since the middle of the 1970s to acquire 50 sugar plantations in the name of the people. The land, argues PAM, would be sold at such high prices that Kittitians and Nevisians would not be in a position to afford the asking price, thus making it easier for foreign owners to buy up large parcels, again returning a great portion of the island under the control of “non- locals” an thus a reversal of the strategy to make Kittitians especially, landed people.
But the government too has been hosting its own town hall meetings to promote its side of the story and to explain its intentions to the populace. It has been the case of the government that though some of the land would be sold at high prices, there will be many opportunities for ordinary citizens to buy parcels at more affordable rates, for housing, business and other activities. They have also tried to explain that some will be made available to farmers.
At tonight’s final meeting, scheduled for the Dieppe Bay Fisheries Complex, members of the public will be addressed by PAM Leader, Shawn K. Richards, along Deputy Leader Eugene Hamilton and other members of the party’s leadership. The meeting starts at 7:30pm.
Representatives of various community groups will also make presentations on issues related to the government’s “Land for Debt” swap arrangement.
Similar meetings were held in Newtown, Cayon, Halfway Tree, Lodge, Basseterre and Sandy Point.