KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent– The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has announced plans to pay farmers near the resort in Buccament Bay EC$12 per square foot for their lands that they will sell to Sandals Resort International.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement on his weekly programme on the state-owned NBC Radio.
The prime minister also said that the state will pay the same price to the Catholic Church, for land in the area, but further than the farms from the resort. He said that his government has concluded an agreement with the Catholic Church to buy six acres of land .
The Catholic Church had initially earmarked the land for the construction of a school but has since decided against it.
Gonsalves said that his government has also “agreed to about six acres from Bernard Punnett” — a major landowner in the area.
The Prime Minister also revealed that four farmers located near the resort who had refused to sell their lands to Harlequin — the company that originally owned the resort — about a 14 years ago, when construction of the resort was announced. However, he said the government has reached agreements with three of these farmers.
In revealing details of the arrangement, Gonsalves said the farmers indicated that the Catholic Church had good farmlands in the area.
“So I called the bishop right away and set the thing in motion and two of the acres there, they will get. Never mind you hear all this talk, talk. I’m letting you in to as much detail as is necessary.”
Gonsalves said he has plans for the remaining four acres of the six his government is purchasing from the Catholic Church – “… and you will hear about that plan at some other time.”
He said that his government will take to Parliament on Thursday, a supplementary appropriation bill in relation to the acquisition of those lands.
“And for money to purchase the lands from the Catholic Church, I would just want to say that by the end of November, that money should come back to us from Sandals in accordance with the agreement, which we have.”
He said that Sandals has made a down payment of some US$1.75 million, representing 10 percent of the agreed price for the Buccament Bay resort.