Government owes $136 million to landowners whose properties they acquired.
This disclosure came from Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development George Payne who was leading the debate on a resolution under the Land Acquisition Act, Cap 228 to make way for acquiring land at Harrismith St Philip, in the House of Assembly today.
“The amount of money Government owes for acquisitions, which does not include interest or any other inconveniences the victims might have, is $136 million dollars. Now if you add on the interest and the other variables it may very well come to over $300 million…
When questioned about the amount by Deputy Speaker of the House Glyne Clarke, Payne explained: “That $136 million would involve monies that would have been agreed and monies which have been assessed by Barbados Revenue Authority which are outstanding.”
He continued: “The thing about it is that under the BERT programme there are certain arrangements where Government’s contingent liabilities could be settled and we are in a situation where we can’t deal with these acquisitions.”
When asked again by the deputy speaker to clarify the matter of interest the Housing Minister said that the Land Acquisition Act needs urgent attention as it does not directly speak to interest payments.
“The Land Act is not a recent statute. We need to do surgery on the Act. It is something we have spoken to for years but haven’t done anything about it. It is deficient in many aspects in terms of what you are asking about interest. It does not set up a specific sum for interest but it did state that if a person put in a claim under the Land Acquisition Act and the matter goes to court, the judge has the discretion to impose a figure not exceeding six per cent. So in other words the Land Acquisition Act does not make provisions for any interest,” Payne explained.