Members of two opposition parties are calling on the government to renegotiate with the investors of the proposed US$250 million Paradise Found Resort Project, following the passage of the Paradise Found Bill in both Houses of Parliament
Harold Lovell, political leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), said this is one of the new approaches to the fight to prevent the “excessive and unnecessary” giveaways to the billionaire investors.
“It would be very difficult for the UPP to prevent the governor general from assenting to the Bill. But we are of the firm view what the government is doing and the way they are proceeding, are wrong. We believe the agreement was badly negotiated and sufficient thought was not put into it, and we would wish to see the terms re-negotiated,” he said.
One specific area of concern, Lovell said, is the waiver of the provision in the Barbuda Land Act that allows the Barbuda Council to levy a land tax on the new development
“We take the view that, at the very least, the Barbuda Council should be entitled to get some return from the venture,” he noted.
Other concerns include the absence of some form of surety within the Paradise Found Bill that Barbudans would be provided with jobs and a succession plan in place so that nationals can be promoted to higher positions over time.
While the UPP awaits government’s response to the latest call, Lovell said the party will support the legal challenge mounted by the opposition Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) which is awaiting a hearing in the Court of Appeal some time in December this year.
The BPM’s case calls for the government to redo the approval process for the project, as outlined in the Barbuda Land Act.
“Ultimately this is a Barbuda matter, but we will support it because we believe that the court process is being undermined. We believe a very bad precedent has been set. Every other investor could legitimately claim that they would wish to have some statutory force or parliamentary force in order to give them whatever they desire.
“We believe that a level playing field is a much better way to approach the issue,” the opposition leader stated.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)