A public Crown Land Allocation Register will be created soon and posted online, according to Ronald Smith-Berkeley, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change.
“Wherever crown land is available in the territory — who made the purchase; what they paid for it; the acreage — all of that information will be accessible to the public by the press of a button,” Mr. Smith-Berkeley said during a government “Table Talk” programme on Facebook on Sept. 13.
The public register was among several recommendations included in the Virgin Islands Crown Lands Distribution Policy Review Report, which VI attorney David Abednego completed in January as part of the reforms recommended last year by the Commission of Inquiry.
Following that report, Mr. Smith-Berkeley said, the process for distributing crown land is still under review as his ministry works to draft a new policy to submit to Cabinet for approval.
“By the time this review is done, what we will have is a register that delineates all of the crown land that we have in the territory,” he said. “We’ll also have in this register who applied, what acreage they were given. We’ll also have … how much they paid for this land: complete transparency.”
Once the register is operational, he said, it should be a helpful resource for anyone interested in purchasing crown land.
“I would like to think that someone with an interest in crown land would be directed to this particular register on the government’s website to see where land is available, how much is available — whether that be for commercial, residential purposes, agricultural purposes,” he said, adding, “This will give persons an insight of exactly what they are looking for, avoiding persons having to guess when they are applying.”
Currently, about 33 percent of the territory’s approximately 40,000 total acres is crown land, including multiple areas set aside for sale to first-time buyers at relatively low rates, according to the PS.