The $60 million for land sale in Canouan that Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace raised questions about on Monday, was actually for lands sold in 2013, government senator, Julian Francis said on Tuesday.
“What they are talking about is something that transpired in 2013,” Francis, who is Minister of Works and General Secretary of the ruling Unity Labour Party, said on his weekly radio programme.
He said the sale was part of the US$80 million supplementary estimates that Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Ralph Gonsalves brought to Parliament in June 2013.
“There is no recent sale of land in Canouan by the government to that extent,” Francis said.
“It is not real. There is reality to it.”
Francis told listeners that he believes that the New Democratic Party (NDP), which Eustace heads, is talking about the land sale approved by Parliament in the supplementary estimates.
Those supplementary estimates included 40 acres of land that were identified to be sold to finance the completion of the Argyle International Airport.
He said the US$20 million for those lands was part of that figure.
Francis said he recalls that in the debate, Gonsalves said he was looking for US$80 to finish the airport but the figures he came up with was US$75.
“So, what Mr. Eustace and the others are carrying on with, Mr. Eustace debated that supplementary estimate as well as all the other members of Parliament of the opposition.”
He, however, noted that the opposition walked out towards the end of the debate, but never supported the bill.
“That is the transaction that you hear them going on about, and it is not sixty million U.S.,” Francis said.
On Monday, Eustace spoke of reports that the government had sold for US$60 million an additional 40 acres of land in the southern Grenadines islands, two-thirds of which have been leased to foreign investors.
Reports suggest that some persons had believed that this sale was a recent one.
iWitness News was told that last week, during a meeting between businesspersons on the southern Grenadine island and an agent of an investor, resident raised the issue of access to the island’s beaches.
The investor’s agent told the residents that if they want an access road through certain lands, investors should be given back their $60 million, iWitness News was told.
Eustace, speaking on his weekly radio programme on Monday, said that while people know about the investments in Canouan, there is a heightened sense of insecurity regarding the tourism development and the role of the government in that regard.
Government spokesperson, Elson Crick, when asked Monday night if the government had a comment on the issue, said it is something that the Prime Minister would have to address.