Farmer Shaka is not the only player in the Buccament Bay resort land acquisition matter that allegedly had a change of heart about the initial price for the lands.
The Catholic Church did also, according to information that Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves presented to Parliament on Thursday.
Gonsalves said that the four farmers — which include Shaka — had reached a verbal agreement with the government over the price of their lands.
And while the did not identify Shaka or any of the farmers by name, Shaka has told iWitness News that he wants no less than EC$1.5 million for his 1.45 acres of land.
The amount is EC$100,000 more than he was offered some 15 years ago when a resort was first being built in the area.
But Gonsalves told Parliament last week that his government is offering EC$523,000 per acre, which he said is twice the market value.
The finance minister said that when the government acquired the land, it set aside four acres close to Duncan’s Furniture, in Pembroke, in case the farmers wanted a land swap.
Two of the farmers were interested in a land swap but said that the lands that the government was proposing was too rocky.
They suggested that the government buy some of the lands that the Catholic Church was selling in the area, as this was better for agriculture.
“The church was selling the six acres of land. The government called the church. They asked a price, the government agreed, without any haggling.
“However, the church later upped their initial asking price, citing what they had learned about what the government was willing to pay to farmers. The Honourable Prime Minister agreed, and we agreed to the revised offer by the church.”
The finance minister, speaking light-heartedly, further said:
“Without casting any aspersions on the buyer or the seller, I will note that both the buyer and the seller in that negotiation were Catholics and that the Minister of Finance, who is an Anglican, was omitted from the negotiation between and among Catholics.”
Returning a more serious tone, Gonsalves continued:
“In all seriousness, having agreed to the purchase of the land for the church, we then said those two farmers that were willing to relocate, wanted land for their land could occupy the land on a church site.”