By Lindsay Thompson
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper lends his support to the debate on a Resolution of intended acquisition of land. He made his contribution during the Wednesday, February 2, 2022 sitting of the House of Assembly.
“The resolution we are debating today will acquire land that will support the development and expansion of tourism product,” he said. “This resolution shows that we are moving methodically and intentionally to facilitate our tourism sector.”
According to the minister, the move also sends a signal to The Bahamas and the world that “our country is open for business and that we act as a friend and partner to the investment community.” He noted that Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis, who is also the minister responsible for lands, has articulated the purpose of such a move. “As all of us who sit in this House can attest, the issue of land reform has long been a thorny and vexing issue.
“The absence of a proper land registry has placed many individuals and institutions at a disadvantage in this country, including the government,” the minister said. He added, “We recognize that generation land and land in the Family Islands has been particularly impacted by this and we have pledged to take steps to address the problem.”
One of the first steps toward addressing the problem, he indicated, is the prime minister’s formation of a Land Reform Working Group since coming to office September 2021. There are also other areas where land and the rights to land, have impacted Bahamian citizens and residents.
“One of those areas is the disturbing issue of beach access, particularly in New Providence,” the minister said.
“The stance of this administration is clear – we believe that Bahamians should have simple and easily identifiable access to beaches. Public beaches are our birthright.” And while the Davis administration pledges to work with developers for the most favourable outcomes for their projects, the minister stated that Bahamians must not be sidelined and denied access to the nation’s beautiful beaches.
He assured that in this vein, the government plans to be proactive in this approach. “I have already asked Local Government town planning committees in Exuma to undertake an exercise to identify appropriate beach access across the island,” said the minister. And, insofar as protecting Bahamians’ right to access beaches and the ocean, he said, “this administration will do what it has to, inclusive of land
acquisitions, to preserve this right.”