Businessman and developer Sir Franklyn Wilson said the lack of proper land registry laws in The Bahamas could lead to people “stealing” land on storm ravaged Abaco and East Grand Bahama.
Wilson was contacted for comment regarding reports of a “land-grab” on Abaco by people seeking to purchase property on the island cheaply post-Hurricane Dorian.
“Land value is a matter of supply and demand, and today, I would imagine that land value in Abaco today is not where it was before Dorian,” he said.
“So when one says someone wants to grab something, the fact of the matter is there’s risk because people will factor into account the probability of there being another Dorian or whatever the case is, and these things will go into determining what they’re prepared to pay for land. So, I’m not worried about that. I think supply and demand will take care of that.
“It calls into question however, the ongoing problem of dealing with land in The Bahamas, because of a lack of land registration. People are likely to, in this climate, increase the probability of stealing the land. This matter has been talked about for decades and successive parliaments have failed on this question about land registration in the country.
“So it is possible that Dorian will increase the probability or potential of people literally stealing, not no grabbing for prices. That’s not new, we know about that reality and successive parliaments have known that and have done nothing about it.”
Last year, the government announced its intention to prepare a formal white paper on the creation of a national system of land registration that it said would immediately bring the process of resolving all unresolved land titles issues in The Bahamas to an end, as well as modernize and simplify all land-related issues.
“The government can do something, they can move for swift change to law, they can do things,” Wilson said.
“The Privy Council in a recent ruling [said] that it’s a matter for the Parliament of The Bahamas to address. So, the Parliament of the country needs to do something to stop this literal stealing of land. This is not new, people have known this going on [for] decades.”
In 2010, the Ingraham administration prepared several land bills including the Law of Property Bill 2010, the Registered Land Bill 2010, and the Land Adjudication Bill 2010, which remain out for public and stakeholder consultation.