I write to take issue with a couple of points made in the Compass editorial of 8 February in relation to a front page story of the same date about the acquisition of land for the expansion of the West Bay cemetery.
In your editorial you question the use of compulsory acquisition for the purpose of obtaining land for cemeteries, saying it is understandable in the case of acquiring land for roads. As you pointed out in your editorial, compulsory acquisition is used when the land is needed for public purposes. To take it a step further, compulsory acquisition is used to fulfil very important national needs. Anyone who does not equate the need of having sufficient cemetery space with the need of having a road certainly has a misplaced sense of national priorities. Just imagine what would happen if there is no cemetery space.
There is no need to ponder the effect of compulsory acquisition on future investment as your editorial did; there is more than adequate provision in the law to ensure that property owners are fairly compensated. Furthermore, compulsory acquisition is by no means unique to the Cayman Islands, and as I have noted, the measures required by our law are reasonable and fair.
On another point, Premier McKeeva Bush did not tell the audience on Monday night that he believes the land can be acquired for about $2 million as stated in the editorial. What he said was that there is a preliminary valuation of between $2.75 million and $3.25 million. In explaining the necessary steps if indeed compulsory acquisition must be used, Premier Bush said the parties would first attempt to negotiate the price between them. In the event that no agreement is reached the CIG would apply to the Grand Court to determine the amount of compensation to be paid. In its submission to the Court, the Lands & Survey Department would present its own valuation and two independent valuations and the owner would likely obtain his own valuations for submission. No one has said that we would expect to pay $2 million for this property of 11.7 acres.
I must also point out that the CIG remains open to acquiring other suitable property if it is available. In fact, Premier Bush told those in attendance on Monday night that if they know of alternative property that is suitable for a cemetery they should let the government know about it.
I trust that these corrections enable your readers to have a more accurate understanding of this important matter.
to the Premier