Ministers challenge land swap Bill
- Published on Saturday, 22 September 2012 13:42
- Written by Toni Frederick
- Hits: 1812
Basseterre, St. Kitts (WINN): For the first time in the St. Kitts and Nevis Parliament, two government Ministers challenged a bill brought to the House by the Prime Minister.
In a marathon session of Parliament that adjourned after 11:00 o’clock Friday night, The St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Limited (Vesting of Certain Lands) Bill 2012, was debated and passed. But not before Agriculture Minister Dr. Timothy Harris raised grave concerns about the wholesale loss of a significant portion of the country’s patrimony.
Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor echoed his sentiments, and said that the move had serious implications. He said the national debt had been a problem for some time, and other options should explored to deal with it.
“I don’t know if people understand what this means…because any future development must involve land. This is all we have. You can’t do anything without lands.”
He said he had to speak out for what was right.
“We’re here not only now for now…but for future generations.”
The Bill provides for the vesting of 1200 acres of government land to the National Bank to settle public debts to the bank in a bid to reduce the Federation’s high national debt.
The Prime Minister explained during his presentation that the services of a company owned by the government and the bank would be used to sell the lands, with proceeds of the sales going to the bank to settle debts.
The sitting continued well into the night, and neither Minister Harris nor Condor were present when it was read a third time and passed. Minister Marcella Liburd had also left the Parliament by that time and all members of the Opposition except Senator Vincent Byron.
The Prime Minister and other Ministers defended the legislation and charged that those who opposed it did not have the best interests of the country at heart.
The Prime Minister said that the land swap would ensure that depositors never lost their money or returns on their investments in the bank.
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