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Pay debushing costs or lose lots


Pay debushing costs or lose lots

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Landowners who refuse to pay Government for debushing their lots could end up losing them.
Minister of Health Donville Inniss warned yesterday that he would be moving urgently to arrange for such lots to be disposed of to recover taxpayers’ costs.
Inniss said that last year the Ministry of Health debushed more than two million square feet of land at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $800 000.
He reported that the amount collected so far from that three-month debushing project was only $75 003.19.
The minister said it was reprehensible that Barbadians at home and abroad, and state departments could sit back and watch land that they own become a public hazard and then “adopt an attitude that the Ministry of Health could come and clean it up”.
“As a government we have always opted to use moral suasion and not to take any strong-handed approach. It is my considered opinion that the time is right for the Ministry of Health to make full use of the Health Services Act which gives the Minister of Health the authority to dispose of said land and assets to recover the cost. Moral suasion is not working. 
“People may think that I am being high-handed, but that is not the case. We have been doing this now for nearly ten years and it is certainly to my mind a lack of care for fellow Barbadians when you can sit back, see your lots go into bush and don’t give a hoot about it.
“If you completely ignore the notices and invoices from the Ministry of Health, be prepared to run the risk of having that piece of land sold.
“Until people are either embarrassed into paying their bill or until we enforce the law that sees a For Sale sign going up on the land, people are not going to take us seriously.
“I don’t think the average Barbadian would want to have $1 500 make him or her a fool or lose a vaulable piece of real estate.”
Inniss admitted that some Barbadians were not financially equipped to repay Government for cleaning their lot. He encouraged such people to report to authorities in his ministry.
“When I look at the list of those who own land in Barbados that won’t pay, there are individuals who can afford to pay. I am a politician. I see the list, I see the names and I know many of them. But no, the attitude is ‘$1 500 is not gonna break the Treasury, so let the Ministry of Health foot the bill’.
“Prior to any public auction of land, we will seek to publish in the public domain the names of those who have not responded and the location of lots.”
He added: “I have asked the officers in the Ministry of Health to work over the next couple of months, collecting all the information, making sure that we have followed the law and reminders, and where such have fallen on deaf ears we will enforce the law.”
“We don’t need any more legislation, we don’t need to go to Parliament and create any more laws. Everytime you talk about these issues, lawyers and others like to rant and rave and say you can’t do this, you can’t do that . . . . I am not prepared to spend the next year or two talking about new laws. . . ,” the Minister of Health said.