Former AG says Yida’s license conflicts with the law

Bulldozed area at Crabbs Peninsula/Photo credit: The Movement Facebook page

It has been posited that several allowances for construction granted to Yida International Investment Antigua Limited in its Special Economic Zone (SEZ) override the Development Control Authority (DCA) and are thereby in conflict with the Physical Planning Act 2003.

The opinion, given by former Attorney General Justin Simon, who, speaking to OBSERVER media, addressed a concern first raised by an environmentalist who had examined Yida’s license, the Antigua & Barbuda Special Economic Zone License Order 2015, Statutory Instrument No.53 of 2015.

The wording of the license order appears to grant Yida exclusive control over development in the SEZ, allowing it to establish its own authority for development control whose approvals and permits, the license order states, “carry the same legal validity” as those issued by the DCA.

“It appears that what it is basically doing is taking away the issue of permission from the DCA. I have a problem with that – that a statutory instrument would be removing from the DCA’s authority planning permission in respect of that area,” Simon said.

After granting Yida a license to operate the SEZ, the statutory instrument, published in the gazette December 14, 2015, states “the SEZ… license shall be effective from the date of the license…”

It further states, “The government… shall provide all required approvals and permissions to the zone for all masterplan and environment protection matters in a single instance.

“Approvals for all infrastructure and construction projects within the zone shall be given by the authority in charge of development established in the zone…. All permits issued within the zone shall carry the same legal validity and rights as those issued by the Development Control Authority.”

Read more in today’s Daily Observer.