The Registrar of the High Court and the Solicitor General were both invited to Cabinet to address the “unlawful” granting of leases in Barbuda by the Barbuda Council.
The purported leaseholders reportedly then sold their unlawful leases to a developer; the intention of the developer, it appears, is to control vast swaths of land along Barbuda’s shores.
“The granting of leases and the transfer of the unlawful leases are both illegal under the past and existing laws of Antigua and Barbuda,” the government says.
The Cabinet says that under the 2007 Barbuda Land Act, adopted by the UPP administration, all leases by the Council required “the approval and … the advice of Cabinet” (Section 6.1). That 2007 law was repealed. Sections of the 2007 law were repeated in Law 41 of 2017: The Barbuda Land (Amendment) Act 2017. Part II Section 5 reads:
The Cabinet may, on the recommendation of the Council, grant leases to such persons who qualify for such a grant.
- Leases for major development
(1) A person who desires land in Barbuda for the purpose of a major development, may apply to the Council for a lease in the Form prescribed by the Council.
(2) The Council may consider every application received under subsection (1) and forward same to the Cabinet with its recommendations.
(3) The Cabinet may, after consultation with the Council, grant a lease for a maximum term of 50 years or for such longer period as the Cabinet may approve, subject to such terms and conditions as the Cabinet may deem fit.
(4) Any application for a lease or the extension thereof shall be of no legal effect, unless an application for the purpose is first submitted to the Council.
The legal luminaries are clear on the interpretation of the law; the actions taken by the Barbuda Council are illegal and the Leases granted are void and “of no legal effect.”
The Registrar was instructed to set-up a Barbuda Register of Lands. It will list all owners and leaseholders of land in Barbuda, exactly as is done in Antigua, following a cadastral survey.
The Barbuda Register will allow access by the Barbuda Council. The Cabinet reiterated its policy to lease each acre of land for US$5,000 and to apply the Undeveloped Land Tax to prevent speculation by those who seek to profit by doing nothing.
A Committee comprising the Minister of Barbuda Affairs, the Chairman of the Barbuda Council and the Parliamentary Representative of Barbuda was agreed-to; the Committee will attempt to settle all differences.
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Look at problem! You think the Barbudans are going to cooperate in giving their names and personal information to the Land Registry to register the lands they occupy? Unlikely.
Trevor Walker MP, is the rightful leader of Barbuda. The people selected him.
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