The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines owes EC$33 million for lands acquired at Argyle for the construction of the Argyle International Airport, which opened in February 2017.
Payment is yet to be made for 125 plots, some for which titles have been presented .
Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves made the disclosure in Parliament on Tuesday in response to a question from opposition legislator Arnhim Eustace.
The East Kingstown Member of Parliament asked the minister to say what is the value of the land taken by the government at Argyle which was used for the construction of the airport and still not yet paid for.
Eustace also wanted to know when would such payments be made.
Gonsalves said that the land for which payment is yet to be made are divided into two categories: lands with deeds, and lands where ownership issues remain unsettled.
“And the majority of those 125 plots are lands which we are still trying to ascertain who to pay because there is no deed for the land,” he said.
“As at June 7, the outstanding amount for the lands with deeds was $19.4 million inclusive of interest, while the sum owed on the lands without deeds was $13.7 million inclusive of interest,” he said, adding that the exact total is EC$33,109,354.
“The government and the IADC are currently completing a plan to address the settlement of these amounts owed to these remaining land owners. We continue to work to try to ascertain land ownership issues because that has been a very lengthy process in some cases and even though the majority still are without deeds, that number has been falling as we have been working to resolve that issue.
“I don’t have today a date I can give you with specificity but the plan is on-going and we hope to announce the details of the plan in this current year,” Gonsalves said.
Meanwhile, Gonsalves told lawmakers that the International Airport Development Company, the state-owned firm that built the EC$700 million airport, and the government adopted a two-pronged strategy in respect of the lands that were required for the construction of AIA.
First, face-to-face negotiations were held with each of the 142 owners of built property to arrive at a mutually agreed price in each case.
By Nov. 30, 2017, this objective was achieved and all 142 owners of built properties were fully compensated to the tune of EC$60,132,670.
Also, to allow IADC to take possession of the vacant lands — including farm — at the site needed to construct the airport, the government issued three acquisition orders in April 2008, July 2009, and October 2010.
As at Nov. 30, 2017, the IADC had paid out EC$53,825,827 on those lands.