Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley has cautioned Government to be mindful of how much of its land it sells to foreign investors.
He suggested that with a scarcity of land on the island, Barbadians should be given priority to own a piece of the rock.
Atherley made the comments in Parliament on Tuesday during debate on a land resolution which will see the property on which the former Louis Lynch Secondary School stood being sold to WIBISCO.
The Opposition Leader said the ownership patterns that exist in Barbados have existed historically.
“In the context where land is scarce we persist seemingly, very easily, in exposing ourselves to foreign ownership. I am not altogether against foreign ownership but I do hold very strongly to the view that where there is foreign ownership approved and allowed, it has to be tied to investment, and when I say investment I’m not talking investment where you build a vacation home or villa away from your normal place of residence where you come for about three months a year and you employ two people – that is very limited investment activity,” he said.
“I’m talking about investment that generates significant levels of employment, investment that allows for the transmission of skills and knowledge, investment that perhaps helps to further boost our export potential and therefore our revenue generating foreign exchange potential. Now, if we simply continue to let foreigners own land in Barbados, some in large quantities, and it is not attached to any real investment then I think we are making a mistake in the context where land is scarce.”
Atherley maintained that if Government continued on its current trajectory, a time would come where Barbadians would be “shut out” from owning land.
He also asked Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance, Dr William Duguid to say what percentage of land was owned by Barbadians.
“I would like him to give the assurance that while he holds the portfolios of Housing and Lands in Barbados he would try to do his best to make sure that we don’t have wanton consolidation and wanton speculation and foreign investment owning Barbados to the extent that Barbadians are shut out of the land owning class in this country,” the Opposition Leader said.
“I wonder if any study has been done or if there are any indicators that would tell us what obtains now, vis-à-vis the value of domestic ownership of land in Barbados as opposed to the value of foreign owned land in Barbados. I wonder what the ratios are.” (RB)