The Minnis administration is proposing the reclamation of Crown land from those who do not use it for its intended purpose and instead, enter lease agreements as opposed to selling many of the country’s cays outright.
Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Anthony Newbold told the press last week, that the decision comes on the heels of persons “bragging” about how much acres of Crown land they have acquired, and how much land has been sold within the last decade.
“Everyone complains about the land in The Bahamas and the fact that we keep selling the land. If we keep selling it there will be none left,” Newbold said.
The press secretary revealed that a special land unit has been created to determine where Crown land is, who the owners of that land are, and if it is being used for the original intent.
“I don’t know if we know the disposition of all the Crown land in The Bahamas and that in itself is concerning,” he said.
Newbold added that it is also unclear of have many individuals have been granted leases on land.
It is hoped, he said, that the pending audit will also tell how much Crown land is left in the government’s reserve.
The issue of Crown land was recently highlighted when Oban Energies president Satpal Dhunna revealed that the company that is proposing to build a $5.5-billion-dollar oil refinery in East Grand Bahama, was granted 690 acres of land for the project.
“We also hope to look into how much money has been made from selling the cays and land in general,” the press secretary said.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis serves as minister responsible for Crown land and in the past, has committed to ensuring both transparency and accountability for the use of it.
A former director of lands and surveys was forced to resign from his post in 2009, after it was revealed that he granted five pieces of Crown land in Exuma to his relatives. That land was reportedly sold for a significant profit.
In 2006, a Bahamian contractor was granted 7,000 acres of commercial land on Gladstone Road for $221,000. It is reported that the same property was turned into mortgage security for a $7 million loan within three months.