The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis in December during the Budget Debate announced its intention to gradually repurchase portions of the lands sold under the controversial Land-for-Debt Swap arrangement initiated by the former Denzil Douglas Administration.
In keeping with the committment the governmet has begun the repurchase process with the official “buy back” of some 200 acres from the Special Land Sales Vehicle which is responsible for the sales of the swapped lands. The 200 acres repurchased are spread across Cayon, Lodge, Ottley and Sandy Point.
In 2012, former Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas presented and piloted the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Limited (Vesting of Certain Lands) Bill, 2012, in the National Assembly, which provided for the vesting of 1,200 acres of government land to the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank to settle $900 million of debt with the bank. The Bill was passed on September 21, 2012.
“We did say that the Land-for-Debt Swap was a bad decision of the former government; we did say that a consequence of it was that the prices of land were being put outside the reach of ordinary people, and we continue to believe that,” Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said during his Budget Presentation in the National Assembly on Dec. 12.
The Prime Minister said his administration is aware of the intricacies of the arrangement and their implications for the financial books of National Bank and the other institutions involved, “and so we have determined that we will find another sensible way to redeem the land and put back the lands in the hands of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
Because of the strong fiscal health of the country’s resources, the Team Unity Administration has decided to repurchase quantities of lands and make them available to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. This, according to Prime Minister Harris, allows for careful management with respect to all entities involved.
“We will start by reclaiming lands for the people of Sandy Point who were locked out, particularly by the La Valle deal; we will reclaim lands at Cayon for the people of St. Christopher Eight, and of course, we will redeem the land taken from the people in the Lodge/Ottley’s community. Those will be the initial responses, and we will bring back at least, by year end, 500 acres as part of that process,” Dr. Harris said.