Real estate mogul Mario Carey wants a national conversation on how unused land on the Family Islands could be used to stir-up economic activity and slow brain drain in the country.
In a statement released yesterday, he contends that if this land is not used it could be lost, leaving generations of Bahamians without a birthright.
According to Carey, incentives need to be put in place for this land to be developed so that communities can grow and flourish across the islands.
Carey admits that this conversation will “ruffle feathers”, but he contends that it is in the national interest.
“Vast tracts of land throughout the Family Islands are lying untouched when they could be sustainably developed, benefiting local economies and slowing the brain drain,” the statement said.
“How do you get the economies of many of the Family Islands to open up and move forward? How do you make them dynamic, so they are not dependent upon a few small hotels or Airbnbs, but offer real opportunities enticing kids who grow up there to want to live there as adults? You have to create communities, not just settlements, and creating communities means opening up vast sums of land that are generally owned by a few families,” Carey added.
He said some of this land has been passed down for generations, but their owners have had very little incentive to develop it. He explained that large parcels of land may have to be taxed in order to promote their use, in addition to the provision of incentives.
“Is it time to consider incentives and a level of taxation on large parcels of land owned by Bahamians who are not using the land in a sustainable, productive way, whether farming or solar fields or resorts, even light industry, but some sort of beneficial use that builds communities and allows the government to upgrade airports and maintain the roads,” said Carey.
He contended that small parcels of land should remain untaxed.
Carey explained that the “clock is ticking” on unused Bahamian land that is currently in high demand.
“You fly over The Bahamas and you see this mass density crowded along the northern coast and central corridors of New Providence, and then you see vast open lands in Andros, the Berry Islands, Long Island, Exuma, all through the southern islands,” he said.
“And you ask yourself, why? Why are these beautiful, green places that are in many ways far more desirable than Nassau just lying fallow with nothing happening and young populations moving out? The clock is ticking on vast unused Family Islands land. It’s time for a national conversation to light a fire under those sitting on the precious commodity that holds the secret to the future of many of our Family of Islands.
He continued, “We either have to find an incentive to move the building of family island communities forward or we are going to face a future when these magic islands will be the gold we gave away while our younger generation moves on and leaves its heritage behind.”