by Vaugn W. Connor
If the Barbuda Council and Central Government are to move forward, there needs to be parameters set devoid of egos. There needs to be awareness and acknowledgement of the risk of inequality in benefits the Island people will face or have experienced in the past.
It is foolish of me or anyone to say that there isn’t a need for sustainable development on Barbuda. To achieve this development, proper planning, and consultations with the people that will be affected, need to be a part of the conversation
The idea is to create conditions and assets that would generate an income large enough to sustain a household and produce enough revenue so that central government and the Council can both benefit.
Proposal 1 – A dual land use policy that will see communal land rights respected but with enough leeway to allow controlled development of the island. 2/3rds of the island would remain as communal lands while the remaining 1/3rd would be used for development which is subject to both Government and Council approval!!
Proposal 2 – Lands that will be used for development be subjected to strict guidelines and regulations and should only be leased. All development and developers should have performance clauses and should only be granted concessions after they have lived up to the performance clauses. No matter the size of development, NO lands can be sold but leases are to be extended as needed. There should be a study done every 15 years to examine the benefits created and how they have helped to bring about a better standard of living for the island and its people.
Though no lands should or can be sold citizens of the Unitary State will be allowed access to the lands as lessees for homes or business approved by the Council for no less than 20 years but no more than 35 years and is subject to renewal based on the needs of the lessee.
The Developers must take a community based approach to their development with the input of the island people – How does the development benefit the community? What are the needs of the community?
There needs to be continued educating of the island people so that there are no misconceptions.
Fair-minded governance at the national, local and communal level is integral to the successes and failures not only of Barbuda but Antigua as well. Communal tenure should be used as a form of land management and control.
In my view, the Council should also look into forming its own credit union. This would give the residents some semblance of financial independence and secure enough revenue which would help in the future.
I don’t have all the answers, but there are countries the world over that have similar issues with their indigenous population and have put measures in place to protect their rights.