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CIG’s proposed land sell-off remains secret

| 29/08/2017 | 61 Comments

(CNS): Government’s plans to sell off crown land, even though the public purse is no longer in the red, raised concerns for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently because the list of proposed sites that may be sold remains under wraps. Members asked why the list hasn’t been made public and who would be buying the land, as they said there were worried about potential backroom deals. PAC Chair Ezzard Miller and member Chris Saunders raised concerns about the sales being discussed behind closed doors and urged officials to put the proposed list in the public domain.

“This whole thing is being done behind closed doors as public are not being told which parcel of lands are on the potential sale list,” Miller said, as he pointed out that the people have no idea what is being put on “the auction block”. He made it clear that his constituents had objected to selling the public land in North Side at a recent district meeting but he still did not know what parts of the $60+ million worth of public land government considered surplus.

Chief Officer Alan Jones, one of the witnesses to appear before the committee as it examined a report about government land from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), said that a district list was circulated to the relevant MLAs before the May election. He said that where concerns were raised, some plots were removed from the list. Lands and Survey Department Director Rupert Vasquez said the list had been re-circulated to various government departments and then revised and now needs to be approved by Cabinet.

Miller questioned why government is planning to sell off “surplus government property”, as he didn’t believe it was all surplus because what may be “surplus today may not be surplus tomorrow”. He said he could not get his mind around the fact that government wants to sell property that is gaining in value every day and not costing government anything.

Saunders was also worried about the lack of public consultation. He said government needed to go out and “engage with the people” and said he would not support any land being sold anywhere without that public engagement.

The idea of selling off public land that government wasn’t using or no longer needed was raised in the Ernst and Young Report, which morphed into ‘Project Future’, the banner under which the government is reforming the civil service. Miller noted that the original idea was to solve the government’s previous cash problems by selling off land it had acquired that it did not necessarily need, but owning much of this property was not costing the government money and he said selling it was nothing more than a short-term gain for a long-term loss.

He said PAC was trespassing on government policy but pointed out that the committee is responsible for value for money for the public purse.

“I fail to see how… selling an asset that is growing in value and costing you nothing to maintain is value for money,” he said, adding that the committee may ask the auditor general to conduct a value for money audit.

Miller said there needed to be much more transparency so people can see who is interested in these sales, and without public exposure there will be more concerns.

Chris Saunders agreed and noted that government has a surplus. “It’s not like they need money,” he said. The new PAC member said it was “frightening” that the government was selling off the public’s land without any transparency. “The public’s business cannot be done in private,” he added.

See the PAC question public officials over the OAG’s update on its 2015 report National Land Development and Government Real Property.

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Category: Government Finance, Government oversight, Politics

Comments (61)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Back room deals where land is bought by the government for inflated prices to reward political backers or friends should be rewarded with a fully paid vacation in Her Majesty’s Prison




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  2. Anonymous says:

    I still can’t believe Govt sold Point of Sand to DART! That piece of land is priceless and now it’s gone forever!




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  3. Sharkey says:

    Attention all Caymanians, please go back and read very carefully the comment written by , Anonymous 29/08/2017 @ 8:38am .

    And stand up for your rights.

    And remember that it is not only your future that the government is selling , but also your children children future too. And remember that after it’s sold it’s gone . So I don’t want to hear anyone complain about government selling the Islands. Because I would say it’s your fault for sitting down and letting the Government do it .




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Secret land sales by the government, what could possibly go wrong with that program? Think someone in government might leak land sale information to local buddies for a sweetheart deal? It could never happen in Cayman.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh please, where were you all when our national hero Jim Bodden paid the late Edgar Wood a far above market value for the land in Northward which is now the prison. Edgar was one of his most fervent supporters. This has been going on for years. Cardinal da Costa for the land for Community College. Pilar Bush’s family for West Bay development. Where was Ezzard when that was going on?




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Want to see the list get a copy of the PAC report that was tabled they are attached so both the original and final list are attached making them public documents.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    The government seems blind to the fact that there are just not enough public spaces for the average Joe. Only if you are super rich can you afford to live in a gated community or have a large lo,t and given the salaries the MLA’s earn, they are in this bracket. That land belongs to the people so give it to the people as common land, anything less is stealing from the people.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    No long talking: I am a voter and I want to see the land list and the buyers’ list that accompanies it.




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    • Sharkey says:

      4:20 pm , you are going to have to get 500 more people like yourself and march to the LA and make those demands . You don’t get them from just writing a comment.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    An absolute travesty. Government should be preserving open spaces and even buying land a la the Smith’s Cove example, not selling it to unscrupulous developers so Cayman can continue to be an unregulated concrete jungle. A truly egregious example of land being developed that should not have been allowed is the case of a private residence being built directly behind the Bodden Town cemetery on a narrow stretch of beach. Why didn’t government buy that land to create a spot for peaceful reflection for those who go to visit the graves of their loved ones? Now the view is blotted out and blocked by yet another concrete block style mansion.




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Joe and Dart will buy. Hope the money will be put to good use. Probably needed for the seamen poor relief and low income pensioners increase, or a new form of revenue so that PRS could be put onthe backburner so Govt can survive without their revenue.




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  11. Cheese Face says:

    This land belongs to the people of Cayman, this Government works for the people of Cayman. They should not be selling anything without full disclosure to the public.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to buy some of that land!!! How does one find out? Who gets to buy the land? If it is secret then it’s obviously corruption.




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  13. Anonymous says:

    If you want some disturbing reading FOI data on all the sales of public land over the last 20 years. Follow the money, look at the select few who have benefited and look how little the public coffers have received. Incompetence, nepotism or at its worse, corruption at the highest levels of government.




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  14. Anonymous says:

    If we are forecast to have a surplus of funds why the hell would we sell land? We don’t need the money! This stinks of corruption and greed from the PPM!




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  15. Anonymous says:

    idiots!!😥😦😧




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  16. Anonymous says:

    If this is the “Queen’s land” don’t they need FCO approval to sell it? Can’t we keep it not only for conservation and long-term development when the need arises, but also so that we don’t end up a concrete jungle where only the rich can view the Ocean from their multi-million dollar balconies? We’re almost at the latter stage now and it’s sickeningly sad.




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    • Anonymous says:

      On Rooster this morning Miller said he wants to set a date for independence to be achieved in 20/25 years time.
      Idiot does not realize the damage he does to investor confidence, especially as PAC chairman he should be concerned about such things. Where the hell does he think government gets its income…?
      But thanks for the advance warning so we can start selling from now.




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  17. satirony says:

    The Auditor General’s report dated June 2015, states in its recommendation #8, that: “The Lands and Survey Department should dispose of properties deemed surplus.”
    However, the manner in which this is done is where the main concerns lie, and an open process with input from various interested organizations as well as the public, is the only way to go in order to avoid the smell of corruption.The Auditor General also states that under the Governor (Vesting of Lands) Law (2005) Revision, the Governor must approve the sale of any government owned land.




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    • Anonymous says:

      There is no land in surplus land in the Cayman Islands. Heck grand Cayman is only /27 x 7 so go figure how even one foot would be surplus. We are not talking about the Everglades or the outback. Also please do not expect any sympathy from the Governor. This is REDUCULOUS and the Premier should understand that not everyone is as fortunate as he is when it comes to owning and inheriting land. They are telling us that there is plenty of money in the budget so what exactly is the issue pushing his action. Enquiring minds wants to know.




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  18. Anonymous says:

    I have voted straight PPM since it was formed but I am starting to have doubts. Too much secrecy not like when the party was first formed. What happened to transparency and regular press briefings? All I can say now is that PPM is still better than the alternative.




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    • Anonymous says:

      I believe the Alternatives would conduct government’s business in an open, honest and transparent manner though.




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    • Eyes Wide Shut says:

      PPM and CDP are now the same thing and formed this government to guarantee top positions for Alden and Mckeeva. Proving they will do anything for power and political survival.

      Do you really think they are any different as groups especially now that they have united as one? Just look at the decisions they have been making over the years. They are both controlled by the same special interests groups who benefit from these sort of back room deals and lack of transparency that has been mastered by the ppm.




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  19. Anonymous says:

    Well if Turk and Caicos are an example government land transactions can often be used to steal from the people. Sales of property was often very private “low ball auctions” with significant amount of actual proceeds going to Mr. Misik. Often government would purchase over priced assets with Mr Misik receiving a kick back from seller. The last one may have been done here during Misik crony Big Mac’s rule.




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  20. Anonymous says:

    They going to sell it and DART is going to buy it and therefore Cayman is F***** going forward. Good job government.




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    • Anonymous says:

      They are preparing us for the Reservation. He is covering us progressively.




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    • Anonymous says:

      We already are. Dart is in control already. Nothing he does to change the country goes to the public for consultation. Dart tells government what he wants and it happens. Just like magic. Anything that government does to act like they in control is just an act to please the voters.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Seen what Dart is doing to the West Bay road ?
      How could planning have allowed that.




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      • Anonymous says:

        From my previous post. “Dart tells government what he wants and it happens. Just like magic.” Our government is no longer in charge of the future of our county they have abdicated that responsibility to Dart.




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  21. Sharkey says:

    I think that the People /Citizens of the Islands are going to have to show some of these Politicians that we are still in charge and demand for this sale of GOVERNMENT PROPERTIES be made public before it is done , because they seem to not be listening to Mr Miller as hard as he is trying .
    I really think that this Government needs a good shake up by the Citizens of the Islands .




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    • Sharkey says:

      Correction to the above, and make them know that we’re still alive , and not the dummies that they want to believe we are .




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    • Anonymous says:

      I would go much further, I will say no selling of our undeveloped land by government at all. WHat is the rush. It is not causing them a single cent to just let it stay as is. The Premier seems to think that just because he is getting out of politics at the end of four years that life will cease for the rest of us.




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  22. Anonymous says:

    Wonder if they’re selling it off to cover the huge civil service pension liabilities referenced in the Miller Shaw report?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Cabinet will continue to ignore the pension and healthcare liabilities while negotiating badly on crown land sales, and gambling inter-generationally on unaffordable and unjustified engineering marvels – like the exponentially more complicated blue water cruise pier that lacks industry arrival commitments, revised EIA, or revised quote transparency.




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  23. Turney Bromez says:

    Please Mr Ezzard and Mr Chris leave this alone because this is how Politicians and government officials enhance their retirement package and ensure employment opportunities and board appointments after they retire. If you dont stop you aint getting a damn ting




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  24. Suspected Caymanian says:

    This ia a time honoured political supporter lodge bro patronage system where loyal supporters and brethren and their proxies get prime government assets free or at discount prices either to bail them out financially or and investment opportunity for all to become rich and cement absolute loyalty or in the case of foreign individuals or entities to garner support or financial funding and power or backing for their government or scholarships for their offspring.Whooop there it is!




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    • Anonymous says:

      They must comply with the Governor Vesting of Lands Law. This involves a long process, including publication in the press of details of the land proposed to be sold. It also requires Government appraisers and private appraisers to prepare valuations. A full report is required from the Minister which goes to the LA and is public. They won’t be selling it at a discount. The real issue here is whether it makes sense to sell public land and, if so, what land




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      • Anonymous says:

        By discount, you mean, less than the $50k avg/acre they managed for the 279 acres of Safehaven crown land sold via the NRA deal? Don’t be so sure.




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        • Fred the Piemaker says:

          That was a leasehold to freehold conversion, so the price per acre is not a straight comparison to an outright sale.




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      • Fred the Piemaker says:

        So how come 3 properties have already been sold? Don’t recall the advertisement, report to the LA or Governors assent on those.




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  25. Anonymous says:

    scumbags!😠😠😠😠




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  26. Veritas says:

    Common sense questions the need to sell off land when funds are not needed. Government needs to explain the rationale behind this project and be completely transparent if they go ahead.




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    • frangipani says:

      Veritas, couldn’t agree with you more, …….what a bunch of ‘idjuts’. I guess they are the type that will sell their own souls for riches. If Gov’t has a surplus in the kitty, why sell anything? Is this the way politicians handle their own finances? We only have a certain amount of ‘rock’ left….let’s hold on to something man!




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      • Anonymous says:

        No they might put it for sale below the market value and buy it back themselves. That has been known to happen before.




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    • Anonymous says:

      No dimwit Cabinet should have the unilateral power to do whatever they want. Yet, that’s the continual problem. They don’t need consent from the electorate to screw us all (and generations to come). They are (literally) unqualified to make these decisions and unwilling to take the expensive advise they sometimes undertake.




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  27. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Ezzard for trying to keep the people informed and for trying to keep them a part of this process, which we should be.




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    • Anonymoushould says:

      Do not leave it all for Ezzard and the opposition to do. Everyone, especially the voting public should get out in front of this and let the Premier and government know that we will not allow him/ them to do this. Are we going to sit by and watch this happen. Remember we pay them to work for us and not against us. If they sell off every piece of undeveloped land, then where will they get land from when we need it. What about the up coming generations of Caymanians, how will they be able to own a piece of the “rock Cayman” will there be anything left for them? . All of you out there, young and not so young really need to get involved.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Instead of forging ahead to sell off land that our forefathers claimed or bought, they should be buying more land and not giving it away like previous government did with the West Bay road and the mess they allowed with the WB Public beach. We will fight to retain the properties in Bodden Town.
      Past governments allowed some properties to shrink, therefore the buildings that were there before could not be built sideways on what is left. Impotent governments past and present.




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