The Department of Lands has had to go back to the House of Representatives last month to allocate an additional ten million dollars to honor the land compensations that the previous administration had committed to prior to leaving office. It is a lot of money to be giving away for lands that were bought at a small percentage of its actual value. In speaking with Minister of Natural Resources, Cordel Hyde, he says that from the looks of things, this may have been a hustling scheme of sorts.
Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources: “It’s a nightmare for us. We spent a considerable amount of time dealing with the stress of having to settle these things. It was an organized thing where people’s lands were being sold and then ultimately those persons who originally owned the land have to get back the land and those persons who got a second title then have to be compensated and compensated at market value and we’ve been insisting to people over the course of time that we don’t have money to pay. We’re in a special financial situation and so you got the land at a very reasonable price like at a social rate and you got it for a particular purpose you should be willing to accept a piece of land somewhere else for you to continue with your particular purpose and if you are insisting to us that you want millions of dollars for a land that you paid a few thousand dollars for then something is wrong with you. And we’ve been fighting those cases in court daily. In fact you would note that we just had to approve ten million dollars in the supplementary budget last Tuesday in the house that’s for land acquisition and that’s bills that we inherited and bill that have been adding up with all these out of court settlements that we’ve had or these court judgments that we’ve had. We’ve not added a single dollar to that land acquisition bill since we’ve been in government. That’s all old bills. It’s an incredible situation you know because during the course of the PUP’s reign many years ago and it seems like a long time ago during the course of those ten years government may have ran up thirty five million in land acquisition cost, three and half million dollars a year. We in last year in just September alone they ran up a bill of $15.5 million dollars. It’s incredible. Every year we approve $10 million for land acquisition but we had to come back and approve another $10 million now because that $10 million is not enough. In fact when we took over in November the budget had been busted, we couldn’t pay any more land acquisition bills until the beginning of the new financial year and that money for the new financial year was busted in May. So that’s why we need the $10 million dollars. We didn’t add a dollar. That’s the challenge we have so it’s not easy but we’re ready for it.”