Hanna Martin On Land Issues

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Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin

Today Parliamentarians debated a Resolution to transfer land to the Ministry of Housing for the sale of 10 service lots.

During debate I argued: _

1) The history of land ownership in The Bahamas explains to a large extent the unequal distribution of wealth today;

2) Members who sat in the House pre-1967 exploited their positions to amass thousands of acres of land oftentimes with little expenditure;

3) one such member was HG Christie who used the legal system to deprive Cat Islanders of their land and send 3 lowly farmer women to jail;

4) 150,000 acres of land were sold in Grand Bahama for $2.80 an acre to Wallace Groves overseen by the Minister at the time who also happened to be his lawyer;

5) the Immovable Property Act was enacted by the new PLP government to redress injustices;

6) the Act was repealed immediately on the FNM winning office in 1992 leading to a virtual loss of control of land being sold to foreigners;

7) in light of the history of successive governments since 1992 in granting Crown Land as a concession to foreign investors and the situation in Mayaguana where the investor has been given thousands of acres of crown land and has not fulfilled any part of its commitment to the Bahamian  people, A MORATORIUM MUST IMMEDIATELY BE PUT IN PLACE SO THAT NO CROWN LAND WILL BE GRANTED TO ANY FOREIGN INVESTOR UNTIL A PROPER POLICY POSITION HAS BEEN DEVISED. This includes the Oban project which this government agreed to give almost 700 acres of Crown Land in East Grand Bahama.

What was most surprising during the debate was the defensiveness of this government in relation to the disclosures of the abuses of the UBP government. They seemed to take it personally. I found this to be very telling of the mindset and philosophical positioning of this administration.

I also spoke to Prince George Dock proposed divestment, monopoly of our sea ports by a small elite and the impact it will have on the economy and consumers, the proper management of our natural resources.

The plans afoot by this administration are eerily reminiscent of that earlier period of exploitation.

Wake up everybody. No more sleeping in bed