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Hugo Patt: “Let’s not play games with conservation”

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Posted: Friday, April 30, 2021. 11:12 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The ex-Minister for Natural Resources, Hugo Patt, warned the new Government not to play games with the issue of conservation.

At a press conference called by the United Democratic Party on Friday morning, Patt said that farmers in his district and elsewhere are having a tough time predicting weather patterns due to climate change and this preservation of forests helps with that.

Our choices today, he said, will direct our future and for that reason, he said, he supports the deal if it goes through.

The ex-Minister of Natural Resources was making reference to 266 thousand acres of land that was purchased by a group of environmental NGOs for US$72 million. Under the special arrangement approved by the UDP cabinet, the land was transferred to a trust controlled by the Nature Conservancy as intended and since it was a private sale, this did not have to be taken to the House of Representatives for approval. According to the UDP’s Michael Peyreffite, while Cabinet approved that the stamp duty on the transfer is waived, no stamp duty was waived by Hugo Patt, as only the Minister of Finance, then-Prime Minister Dean Barrow, has that authority, as provided for by Section 76 of the Stamp Duties Act in this specific circumstance. 

Peyreffite further noted that by the time the Statutory Instrument (S.I.) was prepared to be signed off on by Barrow, he was out of office, and the document is on the desk of successor John Briceno, presenting a neat dilemma – sign, give up the taxes and be eaten for lunch by the trade unions after promising to go after outstanding taxes now, or run afoul of the landowners and TNC.

 

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