BVI News

Gov’t land ownership policy for locals not as straightforward

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour & Immigration, Joseph Smith-Abbott.

Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Joseph Smith-Abbott, has described the process for Virgin Islanders to attain land ownership as somewhat complex.

The PS gave that indication when he appeared before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) yesterday, October 14 to address issues of how the government deals with the allocation and distribution of Crown lands.

Smith-Abbott said land is essentially a valuable and finite asset, therefore, the number of individuals that would likely request or need land far exceeds the land that is actually available.

This meant that significant care and consideration needed to be applied to how available lands would be publicised for ownership in a transparent manner, the PS explained.

“How do you ensure that there is some transparency and equity and fairness in the disposal of that land, given the fact that, as you rightly pointed out, it is not as straightforward?” Smith-Abbott asked.

He told the commission that the government’s policy is one that essentially seeks to increase the stake of home and land ownership in the territory.

In this context, Smith-Abbott said, there is a recognition that state and advisory committees have an important role to play in terms of opening up the process.

Even in instances when a committee might not be in place, he added, there may be reason for some consideration to be given to reestablishment of such a committee.

Guidelines on how to apple for Crown lands

He told the commission that it is ultimately the government’s intent to produce internal guidelines that will dictate how applications for Crown lands are to be processed and considered.

The PS, however, cautioned that the road towards the establishment of these guidelines would be lengthy, and may not necessarily be something that can be defined within a year.

Considerations also needed to be made for public goods and services such as Crown lands for schools, health facilities, and roads, etcetera, Smith Abbott said.

“Those public goods and services have a legitimate place and expectation and they have to be met,“ he stated.

Lands not being sold to the highest bidder

Meanwhile, Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom, said guidelines that suggested selling residential land to the highest bidder would be relatively straightforward, but this was clearly not the case with the government’s policy.

He said for understandable reasons, the policy was not to sell land to the highest bidder, but was instead to sell land to Belongers at a price that they could afford.

Sir Gary said it required a lot of thinking and consultation to bring everything out.


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  1. TurtleDove says:

    I would like to see the documentation he sent to the legislators prior to the COI pointing this out. The ineptness in all levels of government is on display.

    Like 14
  2. Reality Check says:

    How do you account for the land which is being made by filling on the seabed? The land mass surrounding Sea Cow Bay is getting larger almost daily, as has the growing land around Save The Seed. Who owns this land, which was probably filled without permission and proper eco impact studies. We all remember what hoops Nanny Cay had to jump through to build their peninsula, none of which had to be done by the group filling land at the base of Haver’s Hill. What is the ownership of the seabed? If Crown then this is stealing and whomever allowed and did it should be in jail. If Government where are the documents allowing the filling and payment receipt?

    Like 25
    • @Reality Check says:

      And in West End there’s been landfill of the seabed opposite Big Ben’s Gas Station, and a large area further west behind those yellow apartments before the turning to Frenchmans Cay….

  3. Details says:

    The sole owner of crown land is the Queen NOT the BVI government. She has allowed her loyal colonial subjects the privilege of administrating this land on her behalf. This privilege is now in danger of being revoked thanks to the covert deals of this and previous elected officials in all the political parties.

    Like 17
    Dislike 2
  4. one thing i must say says:

    This guy acts more professional…Way better than the ministers…Sounds honest

    Like 15
    Dislike 1
  5. A foreigner view says:

    A friend who was watching said to me. This man acts more like the Premier. His demeneur, his composure, his answers, his calm and clarity, ..He is the Premier we need…Not me that say so..Its my foreign friend

    Like 15
    Dislike 1
  6. Tistru says:

    What is his ” pedigree ”
    His presence brought a positive energy to the interview.
    Intelligent and Articulate.
    Comforting to know that there may be others of his caliber on the scene.

  7. Tistru says:

    What is his ” pedigree “Who e fa
    His presence brought a positive energy to the interview.
    Intelligent and Articulate.
    Comforting to know that there may be others of his caliber on the scene.

  8. Smh says:

    You guys must not know him from national park days. You won’t get no land once he in.

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  9. Me says:

    Mr. Abbott is indeed a breath of fresh air. Some of our politicians and aspiring politicians needs to take a page out of his book. No getting flustered. Babbling, antagonistic ways etc.
    Mr. Abbott was articulate, clear, calm and answered his questions with decorum.
    I’m ashamed that out leaders cannot come close to this man. Guess upbringing is key.

  10. 1st district original says:

    All them tolianians with other names infront or behind their original names is lost for commonsense. They just sit there and collect a pay ck with nothing to show for it. Like the big rock concert. Looser!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Joseph Smith-Abott is just talk, sweet sugar for everybody’s ears!!

  12. Keet it simple says:

    There should really be only two criteria for distribution of Gov lands. Must be a Belonger and must be a first time land owner. A third could be for special projects to bring economic benefits to the BVI.

  13. Yes says:

    Mr. Smith-Abott is a humble man. From knowing him past years he is respectful and also does things by the book.
    He would have made an exceptional speaker of the house.
    Just saying.

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