PM: Alien landholding issues still worrying
July 7, 2006
PM: Alien landholding issues still worrying

OECS Heads of Government signed on to the Caribbean Single Market (CSM) on Monday, July 3, though there are still important issues regarding the requirement by each member state to be sorted out.

At the June 21 OECS Heads of Government Meeting in St.Kitts, leaders indicated their desire to have these matters resolved soonest so that they could give effective expression to their commitment to the CSME.{{more}}

This was mentioned by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Tuesday, June 27 at a press conference held at Cabinet Room.

Amidst the problems, the OECS Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to sign the accord.

The hurdle at the moment relates to the issue of Caricom nationals having unrestricted access to lands throughout the Caricom states. Dr. Gonsalves in a letter to Edwin Carrington, Secretary General of the Caricom Secretariat said that while St. Vincent and the Grenadines acknowledges that the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas makes provision for the right of establishment and for related access to land, the Treaty also emphasized that the access to land is not unqualified or unrestricted.

“We don’t want to deny people coming here; our brothers and sisters from CARICOM, establishing their businesses bona fide but we have to be mindful of the restrictions,” said Dr. Gonsalves, adding “what we have signed on to I want to deliver”.

“You have to be careful that we don’t have land speculation, that we don’t have the lands providing an access which would amount to a destabilization of our economy and society and that we have to bear in mind our agriculture,” said Dr. Gonsalves.

The Prime Minister said St.Vincent and the Grenadines acknowledges clearly its obligation to provide land access.

As a result, Dr. Gonsalves wrote to Secretary General of Caricom Edwin Carrington, voicing these concerns. Carrington in turn responded to Dr. Gonsalves on Tuesday, stating that the CARICOM Secretariat acknowledged his proposal for resolution of the Alien Landholding issues. Carrington stated the Revised Treaty does not provide for unrestricted access by CARICOM nationals to land in Member States.

“Consequently, it is submitted that the retention of the Alien Landholding Licensing regime appears acceptable, provided that it is coupled with an administrative mechanism to monitor the granting of access to land and an assessment of the

conditions of access, to ensure compliance with the Revised Treaty,” Carrington stated.

They also concluded that, though the Regional Development Fund has not yet been established as required by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, they were satisfied that sufficient progress has been made in that regard, to enable them in good faith to give the necessary expression to their commitment to the CSME.