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Nov 8, 2016

The Big Land Compensation; ex-Lands Minister Calls $71Million in 8 Years “Excessive”

Nearly seventy-one million dollars in compensation was awarded from the Ministry of Natural Resources over eight years under the administration of Prime Minister Dean Barrow. Information has come to light of several deals that some believe stink to high heaven. One of the most infamous is the million-dollar compensation given to Ron J Limited for land in North Placencia for which the company paid just six thousand five hundred and forty dollars in 2012, only to see Government re-acquire the land by agreement. This and other deals are all part of a file of compensation deals now under review by Minister Vanessa Retreage, dating back to the start of the year. On Friday, the government sent out letters to Andre Vega and Sharon Pitts in an attempt to recover over eight hundred thousand dollars paid to them for land near Haulover Bridge, which they acquired even though it was held privately. Godwin Hulse, who succeeded former Minister Gaspar Vega following the 2015 general elections, ordered a stop to compensations in January. Hulse offered his views on what compensation is fair and whether politics should play a role.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Former Minister of Natural Resources

“A lot of the compensations are old compensations that began to be paid and began to be paid, and people are still waiting forever. And I want to make this very clear, from where I sit then, now and where I will sit in the future – I don’t believe at all, even if the court rule, and I don’t want to step on the courts, so I will be careful; but I don’t believe that you get a piece of land for four thousand dollars, you do nothing to it, then it is suggested that you got it in error, and then it is valued at commercial rates and you pay nearly a million dollars; that seems odd to me. For me, I would give you back your four thousand dollars with average interest from the time you paid your four thousand to now because I think that’s all you deserve and I mean that.  I won’t put it in a political thing at all, really, forgive me; I will put it in terms of the compensation for land that people got that they shouldn’t have gotten and it doesn’t matter who they are, because if you want to go there, there are people I understand who are supporters of the Opposition who got compensation as well, so I won’t go there at all. The compensation is compensation and I believe firmly that if you had development on the land, if it was a genuine title you thought you had, you had development on it, you had to be compensated for your expenditure. I don’t believe that if it’s just a piece of land you got, nothing on it, and within a short time it turns out it was somebody else’s, that you should have been paid that kind of money. That’s just my stand.”

 

Hulse told reporters that the Audit Department’s report on the Lands Ministry is taking a while but due sooner rather than later.

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3 Responses for “The Big Land Compensation; ex-Lands Minister Calls $71Million in 8 Years “Excessive””

  1. spike says:

    Godwin Hulse is a good man. I wish there were more like him in the GOB.

  2. carlos says:

    I want to know who in the ministry of natural resources will be responsible for the mess. All who will go to jail? As usual I guess known, because we got a corrupt government. Every one covers the corruption of others. What a sad day for Belize.

  3. Mike G. says:

    $71 Million?! No wonder we are broke and can’t even pay the teachers. Each one of the compensations should be reviewed and criminal charges levied if illegalities are found. What a shameful scam our so called “Honorable” ones have screwed us with. Check into Penner’s 1,000 acres in the Pine Ridge.

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