The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines will give “serious consideration” to the acquisition of the privately owned Grenadine island of Baliceaux, which its owners are now advertising for sale.
The plea for the government to acquire the island was made during the March 14 National Heroes Day celebrations at the obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill.
The call came from Zoila Ellis-Browne, as she delivered remarks on behalf of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation.
Baliceaux features prominently particularly during National Heroes Day celebrations, as it is the island to which many Garifuna ancestors were banished; around half of them died there.
In her three point proposal, Ellis-Browne called for the island of Baliceaux to be acquired by the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and also for it to be developed as a Sacred National Heritage Site.
Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves was also among the speakers at the National Heroes Day celebrations at the Obelisk on Tuesday.
Responding directly to Ellis-Browne’s proposal for the acquisition of Baliceaux, the Prime Minister said “It is a matter that we will have to give serious consideration.”
The island of Baliceaux is uninhabited and undeveloped, and is being advertised on the international market for sale for the price of US $30 million.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister however stated that the government will do its valuation of the island, “ and if we cannot come to a private agreement, the Law gives provision to acquire at a particular price.”
He added that if the acquisition is done, and the owners are not satisfied about the price they can seek redress, as “there is a juridical process which can be done.”
“It is a matter which deserves very serious consideration,” he noted.
“I see advertisements that it is to be sold for $30 million, that’s fine, you can put any number.”
He said though “I will not preside over a cabinet which agrees for the sale of that property to any individual who just wants to have a house there”.
He also hinted that it is unlikely that the owners will get a buyer for Baliceaux, because of the intricacies of obtaining an Alien Land Holding Licence, and the conditions which would be required in order to make the purchase.
Speaking earlier this month on NBC radio, Dr Gonsalves had made it clear that an Alien Land Holding Licence would not be granted to someone who simply has money to buy the island.
“You’re not going to have somebody who is involved in high class criminal activity globally, or money laundering, or terrorist, or somebody like that, being able to buy it,” Gonsalves had said on NBC radio.
The 320 acre island forms part of the Grenadine island chain and is the land to which over 5,000 Garifuna were banished in 1797, following the death of Carib Chief, Joseph Chatoyer.
Each year, Garifuna descendants visit St Vincent and the Grenadines and make their sacred pilgrimage back to the island of Baliceaux.
This is done during celebrations for National Heroes’ Day observed on March 14.