The government’s plan to sell plantation lands belonging to Resolution Life, the company which took over the collapsed CLICO Insurance company, is not sitting too well with the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
This afternoon in a press conference held at the DLP’s George Street headquarters, the party’s spokesperson on agriculture Andre Worrell said he was deeply concerned that the hundreds of acres in property, which have not been in production, could be re-zoned as residential property once sold.
He argued that at a time when Barbados was struggling desperately to reduce its very high food import bill, the risk of losing such prime agricultural land was too great a cost, and he, therefore, called on the Mia Mottley administration to be transparent about the process. He also called on the farming community to put pressure on the Government by demanding that they be part of the decision-making process regarding the best options for these lands.
“We are not talking about ten acres, we are not talking about 100 acres, we are talking about in excess of 1700 acres of prime fertile agricultural land in Barbados, which needs to be put back into agriculture if we are really serious about agriculture being a viable sector in Barbados and if we are really serious about opening up opportunities for young people.
“We are urging the Government to have some discussion and to be open and transparent with the people of Barbados on their plans for the CLICO plantation lands in St John, St George, Christ Church, and other areas, We are urging farmers not to sit idly by and let these lands be sold,” he said,
The DLP spokesman contended that before his party was ousted from office last year, there was a plan in place to put the lands under the control of the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) to be developed and leased to farmers. He suggested that this was still the best route to take, even as the Government seeks to recoup some of the taxpayers’ funds expended in the absorption of CLICO liabilities to its shareholders.
“A Government that came in on being accountable, transparent and sharing with the public of Barbados as to what is their intention, we should not have to be speculating today. However, we can only go on what we have seen in the past and we do know that the possibility is very real that when these lands are purchased, a change of use can be automatically given, and these lands can be taken out of agricultural production. You go across Barbados and you see the areas where villas are being put up, where condominiums and senior citizens’ homes are being put up. These were lands which were all in agriculture before,” he lamented.
Worrell further noted, “The Democratic Labour Party can only speak on what our policy was and what our intention was for these properties. We intended to lease those lands to the BADMC so that they can go back into agricultural production. So let the record show that the people of Barbados knew what the policy and position were of the DLP with regards to these lands.”