Under a UPP Administration, politicians and persons who can afford to pay will no longer be able to purchase government lands at peppercorn prices, promises Harold Lovell, Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP).
When the Baldwin Spencer Administration took office in 2004, it met this practice in place and changed it, Lovell says.
While it has been reinstated under the Gaston Browne Administration, the UPP will stop it once elected, the Political Leader says, and the land-distribution system will be reviewed.
Lovell says it is unfair that politicians who can afford to buy lands at the normal prices would seek discounts, while those who can barely afford it have to pay the full price.
Accordingly, he says, the UPP will make lands cheaper for lower-income earners.
Regarding those lands which have already been sold at peppercorn rates, Lovell says the transactions would have to be reviewed. Antigua and Barbuda is a country of laws, he adds, and it must be determined that such agreements were entered into legally and were above board.
In some instances, Lovell notes, if the sale was based on a Cabinet decision it might be difficult to recover certain lands that were sold at cheap rates.
In order to determine what deals were legal and which were undertaken in bad faith, he says that an audit of the land transfers under the current administration would have to be carried out.
Lovell says the Party prefers a leasehold agreement rather than a freehold arrangement – or outright sale – when dealing with investors, and this is a policy it is willing to adopt.