Posted: Friday, March 25, 2022. 9:31 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: According to Minister of Natural Resources Cordel Hyde, some 464 persons or companies own 82 percent of all privately-owned land in Belize – 3.2 million acres.
For some time, these persons, he said, have used their money and political connections to make major political and social decisions, often resulting in great transfer of wealth to themselves.
That has begun to change with the Ministry reaching out to the people directly, he said during Thursday’s Budget Debate: “Our fabled land clinic is about doing just the reverse; it is about transferring wealth to our ordinary citizens, putting lands that are valued at thousands of dollars in the hands of poor people for a fraction of the cost” – most, he pointed out, using it to build their houses or mortgage to start businesses.
The joy on the faces of ordinary Belizeans who have access to land is “the greatest feeling,” said Hyde, but there is no less joy for business organizations who are also assisted: “Land just does something to the soul.”
“We were able to collect more than twice what was collected the previous year in stamp duty and more than 30 percent of the land taxes collected in the previous year. And still, there are many millions of dollars owing. If the wealthy were paying its fair share, we wouldn’t be deep in this mess,” said Hyde.
Hyde also warned that “no skulduggery” will be tolerated where Ministry employees are essentially paid twice to complete their jobs; nor for those who buy lands cheaply, are told they can’t have it, then turn around and sue the Government in court for compensation multiple times greater than the original value of the land, calling one particular case “criminal and immoral.”
The Minister also committed to finding parcels for public servants, including teachers, and paid tribute to the constituents in Lake Independence who have consistently voted for him over the years, and pledged himself to their continued development and prosperity.
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