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Buccama farmers will be treated fairly –PM

Buccama farmers will be treated fairly –PM

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Parliament was told by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves that there are some persons who for partisan political purposes may wish to stir up trouble with regard to the Buccament Development Project. {{more}}

The Prime Minister on Thursday, February 23, was adamant that his administration will not allow the progress of the country to be disrupted.

He appealed to persons “interested in creating strife” to allow the project to proceed in a manner which would be in the interest of the people who are affected and the country as a whole.

Dr. Gonsalves disclosed that the National Investment Promotions Incorporated (NIPI) has successfully started negotiations with a firm of developers out of the United Kingdom, MAN Investment Ltd.

According to Dr. Gonsalves, the developers have agreed to purchase 26.4 acres of land at Buccament for the development of a five star integrated resort consisting of 50 villas, 50 suites, with central facilities including administration, conference facilities, a spa, casino for customers, and restaurants.

He said officials at NIPI have agreed that the developers pay $10.5 million for the purchase of the land. Prime Minister Gonsalves said the overall investment that MAN Investments Limited will be making will be in excess of $200 million. The project is expected to create 400 permanent jobs and 300 seasonal ones.

Dr. Gonsalves disclosed the development will be done in two phases. The first phase is expected to be completed by March 2007 while the second phase will be completed by December 2007.

The project, said Dr. Gonsalves, involves getting lands from 12 farmers. He said four had purchased the lands outright, but one had built a structure on the land despite a covenant in the deed stating no dwelling house should be built. He added that three of the parcels have been transferred from the persons to whom they were leased originally to Bernard Punnett who had paid the lease. Other farmers, said the Prime Minister, had not paid their lease.

Dr. Gonsalves said consistent with the way his Government has functioned, anywhere there is a development the landholders have always been addressed in a manner where the principle is they must not be put in a less disadvantageous position.

“At Buccama we have commenced discussions to make sure that the persons who have lands there will be taken care of. They will be compensated for their crops, they will be compensated in respect of relocation. We are finding alternative lands for them and in the case of the gentleman who has built his house … appropriate arrangements can be made for him instantly,” said Dr. Gonsalves.

“In every material particular these individuals would be taken care of and will be appropriately compensated and livelihoods be established for them,” added Dr. Gonsalves.

Prime Minister Gonsalves said his Government had put this issue of the Buccament Development in its Manifesto and it was overwhelmingly endorsed.

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