BFP Says: Williams Brothers Are No Fools, So They Already Have “Unofficial” Change Of Use Permissions For Barbados Farms Ltd. Agricultural Lands

Ralph Williams was a very bizzy guy in July – and that was long before his wedding on Saturday or the announcement at the Hilton that he and his brother Sir Charles are intending to take over Barbados Farms Ltd.

While our opinion is just that, have a look at the story in the Nation News and ask yourself…

“Would the Williams brothers purchase controlling interest in Barbados Farms Ltd. on mere speculation that a decade from now the government (read “Owen Arthur”) might or might not approve a change of land use from agricultural to residential development?”

You have to laugh at the Williams’ statement that they intend to make the company “profitable”.

In Barbados there are massive profits to be made through one simple step – by changing land use permissions to enable agricultural land to be developed. Some folks have the greatest “luck” in obtaining permission to develop agricultural lands, while others (typically small farmers) sell out after waiting for decades – and then watch the new owners make millions in a matter of weeks.

The Prime Minister and other members of government have time and time again been implicated in corrupt activities surrounding land permissions, and the corruption continues unabated.

Trust your own judgment on this folks – but we say that land use permissions are already a done deal with the Williams brothers’ interest in Barbados Farms Ltd.. The only question we have is… how much will the Prime Minister personally make when the lands are developed?

Without laws against such corrupt behaviour, Owen Arthur continues to be free to profit from his official acts and decisions – and to make such decisions so he can personally profit from his position.

Corrupt? Yes.

But legal.

Here’s an excerpt from the article in The Nation News. Does it sound like the Williams brothers know what they are doing, or not? …

The two said they were committed to keeping a percentage of the more than 4 000 acres owned by Barbados Farms in agriculture, but also intended to place a portion of the land into housing developments aimed at low-and-middle income owners.

Sir Charles said they were prepared to sell house and land for between $120 000 to $200 000 at the lower income level, while the middle income housing could cost up to $500 000.

Their companies, Williams Industries Inc. and CO Williams Construction Ltd., are joining with three other entities in which the Williams brothers hold interests – Foursquare Estates Ltd., Eastern Land Developments Ltd., Astracan Inc. – to form Agricultural Investments Inc., which is angling for at least 50.1 per cent of Barbados Farms.

… read the entire article in The Nation News (link here)

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45 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Business, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

45 responses to “BFP Says: Williams Brothers Are No Fools, So They Already Have “Unofficial” Change Of Use Permissions For Barbados Farms Ltd. Agricultural Lands

  1. Anonymous

    Didn’t the “reporter” from The Nation News ask about permissions to change the land use?

    Answer: No. That would be too much like being a real journalist.

  2. paul sealy

    so…..what’s new????

  3. Inkwell

    Since the take over is not a done deal and cannot be until the shareholders agree to sell at the $2.75 per share offered, any “permissions” re change of use must necessarily be verbal and not in black and white.

    Wait a minute, since the BLP is sure to lose the upcoming election, it must be Thompson that give the permission for change of use. Wuh loss!

  4. Rumplestilskin

    A couple of things.

    The WIlliams are good businessmen and I respect them for that.

    However, they are just that businessmen, thus there are issues of national interest that are at stake, which they will be less inclined to consider in view of their ‘trade’.

    Firstly, what is the nature of the land that they propose a change of use for? If arable, it should be no straight off. There is plenty of arid land here, see St.Philip, for housing use.

    Further, we should not use any further agricultural land which may be pur bread basket in years to come, times and the world changes and the indications are only that things internationally will become more heated, not less.

    Secondly, these $500k houses for middle income earners, what middle-income earner can afford a mortgage on $500k? Are they joking or are they so out of touch with reality?

    Thirdly, is government now NOT doing low income housing?

    The advantage of government doing low income housing, except from concerns of contract tenders and potential for corruption and ‘skimming’ is that there is no profit inclusion and favourable terms for financing may be arranged with commercial banks in order to ensure that the housing is as affordable as it can be.

    With private enterprise doing low income housing there is a profit inclusion which then becomes additional repayment for the low income earners and thus more difficult to repay.

    For those who may reply that ‘they want something for nothing’ I say no, they will be paying financing companies for their housing, albeit at cost of land and construction, only the profit element will be omitted, to make it affordable, which is the raison d’etre for low income housing.

    Thirdly, can we have from government clear ‘rules of engagement’ in terms of land development and change of use rules?

    Certainly, the competition on housing and thus potential for increased players would be easier when knowing the rules rather being at the relevant Ministers ‘whim’????

    Finally, I should caution that further steps to create ‘luxury housing’ from previous agricultureal land if the Government are silly enough to allow must, as the Williams’ allegedly say, be simultaneous with low and middle income housing in APPROPRIATE PROPORTIONS.

    For example, three of each will not do. The ratio should reflect the balance of the population for somthing that is being done ‘in the national interest’.

    Other than that, it simply becomes blind profiteeering to again make money off high-end housing at the expense of the country with little other benefit.

    Such would have serious implications for the overall population, seeing more land slip out of their grasp that should be first the bread basket of the country and secondly only dispensed ‘in the national interest’.

    I personally will being to feel quite edgy with the socio-political balance and the repercussions. I am not being alarmist, but practical. One cannot back a man into a corner and expect no repercussions.

    Peace.

  5. more

    What happened to the plan for an ethanol plant? Is that over now?
    The project to restructure the sugar industry depends on the land being in sugar cane not concrete.

  6. Littleboy

    We have to be careful how we continue to place land and property in the hands of the “two few”. It is a recipe for disaster!!! If people cannot access affordable land they will rebel. We are already seeing signs of it.
    Cow, Bizzy, Cozier, Bjerkhamn and the lot of them are GREEDY. Our BLP government has aided and abetted them in their quest to own &/or control land in Barbados.
    Anyone ready to take bets on how soon we will be like Trinidad and Jamaica?
    REMEMBER 1937!!!

  7. Watching closely

    My thoughts exactly Littleboy. However this is not a continuation we are already there with too much land and property in the hands of the few represented brazenly by Cow and Bizzy. These two and their mates are racial, they are greedy, negatively aggressive, and demonstrate they care nothing about the well being of our nation but about fattening their already bulging pockets. What irks is they became rich off the backs of blacks and with an unfair advantage. They are so called white in our country where being whitey guarantees wealth. Sadly many blacks sing the praises of these megarich parasites while their fellowmen grapple with landlessness and increasing poverty. Your view that the BLP is complicit in the few controlling our land and economic resources is right.

  8. Yardbroom

    Rumplestilskin
    I have followed the logic of your comments, and therein is a lot I agree with.

    Should this deal come off, I will await the moving in of ordinary Barbadians to those new built properties. It will not happen! because the big bucks are not there, – there will of course be the odd couple of buildings, but that will be it.

    This on the surface appears to be a simple matter of a company being bought, but there is more to it than that. In a small island, large acreage of building land will be under the control of a few people. Long before the serfs in medieval Europe saw the need to own their own land, people all over the world knew it. Through the ages the rich made sure they owned land, and thus protected their off-spring.

    Land transfer, purchase, and change of use permission, are of major importance in Barbados. Hants, I have taken cognizance of your views, on another thread regarding ownership and a stock exchange quoted company/ies, but the issue is greater than that.

    Let us take a hypothetical situation, a company owner is in possession of large acreage of land, they are indebted and is obviously land rich but cash poor. A company offers to buy the land at market price, it seems fair, but do they – the company- know change of use will be given to them , after they purchase the land.

    The present owner obviously cannot get change of use permission. This is all legal, and appears so. The owner is aggrieved and justly so, but the cards are stacked against them. The key is the change of use permission, millions can be turned into hundreds of millions at the stroke of a pen, nothing wrong with that, if the playing field is even, but is it?

    We can never move forward as a nation until we have men/women of integrity running our country – that is our problem, and it cannot be said too often. Until then we will always be second raters, puffing and panting on the world stage with a veneer of progress, but the condos, concrete palaces and circumscribed greens of the golf courses which are admired, will not be our own.

    We will be strangers in the land of our birth, Oh! how our forefathers must weep, as to what has become of us. So much pain, for so little gain, a pain “perpetuated” by those who felt the same warm confines, of the womb from whence we came.

  9. james

    I am normally pro-business, pro-free trade and against regulation but there have to be limits and this is it. Land use where there is a finite supply and excessive (particularly overseas) demand has got to be controlled due to the huge environmental, social and economic implications. I do not want to see Barbados turned into a concrete jungle or a disneyland for wealthy expats. I do not want to see agriculture decimated because a quick buck can be made by bribing the odd bureaucrat or politician to get land use changed. Businessmen are businessmen and will make money where they can. That’s fine. I’d do the same and respect their business acumen. But it’s also why we have a government to regulate and plan for the future. Or should have.
    And low cost housing ? Don’t make me laugh. Watch the villas go up across the island when they gain control. On top of the unregulated development you see everywhere and the insane cost of real estate, coupled with rising food prices and static incomes and you have a potentially serious social problem in the next 5 years. We’re not there yet but someone needs to take a pragmatic, long term view. Now.

  10. james

    Very poetic Yardbroom.

  11. Justasking

    Quote from press ad: “The investors have demonstrated that they have the management skills and knowledge to maximize agricultural output and will supply their skills to increasing the agricultural output of the estates of BFL”. Really? May I ask where they have demonstrated that?

    In the preceding paragraph they say “The Investors behind AIL have proven themselves in this regard, having successfully deployed their combined talents to the same objectives with the assets of Foursquare Estates Ltd., which they acquired in 1998”. Where is the proof of them maximizing agricultural output?

    This take over bid is plain and simple a land grab couched in language about increasing agricultural output and improved management. Any fool can get a land use change from agricultural to residential and make a bundle.

    One again, what shareholders need to look at is whether the offer of $2.75 really represents the true value of their assets.

    Perhaps they too need to look at their Board Of Directors and management. Maybe they need to be shaken up.

  12. Pingback: Yardbroom Talks About Corrupt Land Use Changes « Barbados Free Press

  13. Hants

    Justasking says “Any fool can get a land use change from agricultural to residential and make a bundle.”
    You need to rewrite your statement and use the words “RICH DEVELOPER” instead of fool.

  14. Justasking

    Hants, What I mean is that you do not need to be a finanacial wizard or bring any great management skills to bear. Anyone (fools included) who can manage to get the land use change is going to make a lot of money.

  15. John

    Four Square Estates was one of the many assets of Plantations Limited. Everything I heard spoken of it when it was the property of Plantations seems to indicate it was profitable then and it is profitable now!!

    However, Plantations Limited after almost 75 years feel by the wayside.

    Notice there is nothing wrong with the asset it owned, just that it no longer owns it, somebody else does.

    All these games are about throwing assets up into the air and then letting people catch what they can when they fall to earth. Of course some people know how, when and where these assets are being tossed.

    Position is the art of gunnery!!

    Weren’t the Williams Brothers involved in the Agro Processing plant at Fairy Valley too? Can I take my cherries up there to get processed?

    Wasn’t one of them a director in BSIL who took his land around Portvale out of sugar cane as soon as Portvale was built? Wither goes BSIL?

    The Williams Brothers have chosen a business which consumes land as a raw material and there is just so much of it.

    The sad thing is that the result of their business endeavours is unsustainable in the long term. If the worth of a businessman is measured by the ability to turn a profit, they are probably good businessmen.

    If it is measured by long term sustainability for the country, they absolutely suck!!

  16. anon

    I have a number of concerns with this proposed take over

    1. Isn’t one of the members of the group not a Director of Barbados Farms and has been in that position for awhile? If so, why has he not been able to infuse new ideas into the company so that its fortunes could be turned around? Is it that he was waiting for an opportune time to take it over?

    2. Do Directors in Barbados know anything about their fiduciary relationship which they have with the shareholders of the company who have entrusted them to run the company?

    3.We are utilising land at a rampant rate for housing development where every housing unit must be seen to occupy a given land plot. This urgently needs to change. We must provide incentives for persons to build multi storey housing units. If we can do it for developments such as millennium heights we can do it elsewhere.

  17. anon

    Shouldn’t government form a consortium, among its various agencies such as national insurance and national housing cooperation, and make a bid for Barbados Farms or do we have to wait for the Trinis to make a counter offer to shareholders

  18. John

    anon

    The trouble is that we have allowed agriculture to “go” and expect we will just move from agricultural use of the land to putting houses on it and making a fortune!!

    However the issue of water is one which will sink this notion of huge riches. A secondary school student could tell us of the importance of the land in the hydrologic cycle.

    Even if we were able to get fresh water directly from sea water without relying on the completely free natural hydrologic cycle, there would be a cost.

    As the developers of Apes Hill pointed out in June last year in the Nation, the cost outweighs the benefit of the Apes Hill project.

    That is why they built the dam at Farmers!!

    That is one of the many reasons why I feel the Williams brothers (and other) schemes are a blight on this island.

    In the longterm, they will cost us more to fix than we get from them. To my mind, Millenium Heights and Warrens border on the insane.

    Unless a cheap solution to an alternative supply of water is found, we are screwed.

    By the time we figure out what fiduciary duties of directors to shareholders, we will be starting to have to think about the meaning of TREASON.

    Maybe we will have oil by then!!

  19. Rumplestilskin

    I would suggest that anyone who wants a ‘down to reality’ view of this unbridled investment in condos here go to msn network and search for

    10, exotic affordable retiree havens.

    This article shows but a few of the alternatives to Barbados, many significantly cheaper, lovely countryside and good and affordable medical care.

    I am not putting our country down, but merely showing the error in putting all our eggs in one basket, not focusing on internal sustainability.

    For example, rent in many of these examples varies around US$900 per month. Where on earth in Barbados can you rent a condo for that?

    Rent in Paris !!! is put at around $2,650 per month, comparable with Barbados (for condos). Paris, one of the most expensive cities in the world, on a par rentwise with us???

    Medical visits in Malaysia US$16?

    Can you see the folly of thinking that this ‘thing’ here is sustainable?

  20. Rumplestilskin

    Fools gold.

  21. John

    Rumplestilskin

    …. or money laundering!!

  22. Farmer

    The question needs to be asked :
    Whether there is conflict of interest where a major shareholder and Director of the existing Barbados Farms has not exercised their fidicuary duty to do all the things that are now being proposed only if they get the majority of the shares????
    Isn’t this what the duty of a Director is supposed to be??

  23. Hants

    John you talk about water.

    What about Sewage treatment and Disposal?

  24. Peltdown Man

    This whole thing stinks, and the disingenuousness of the Williams brothers at the press conference was mind-boggling. Of course, this is a blatant land-grab. With no more bankrupt estates to buy up cheaply from their “friends’ in the banks, they have now decided to purchase huge tracts of Barbados on the cheap. They only want 60%, “to give other shareholders a change to benefit from the improved performance.” Bull. They only want 60% because that is all they will need to totally control the company and make all its decisions. We all know that shareholders don’t count in Barbados. As owners of these public companies, they can’t even get information on directors’ emoluments. They undertake to keep a percentage of the land in agriculture. For how long? Almost every estate that these people have taken over moves smoothly from sugar to cattle, from cattle to horses, and from horses to real estate. Shareholders of Barbados Farms Ltd: you know what your land is worth in the hands of these developers. Do not sell out at this ridiculous price. Do not sell at all. Make your directors work for a living and identify lands unsuitable for agriculture, and apply for change of use. If it is declined, then the minister responsible for Town & Coutry Planning will be exposed if change of use is granted to another subsequent owner.

  25. Farmer

    Peltdown Man:
    WELL SAID

  26. Wishing in Vain

    There is more to this than meets the eye, the proposed money that COW is willing to pay is maybe three times short of the real value.

  27. We also need to look at the relationship between the Williams Brothers and FCIB. That institution is very much in bed with the big white boys of this island and they are doing it with our money!

  28. Is it true that PM Arthur recently turned down an application for develping lands at Searles Plantation. This application was made by Hally Haynes, who wanted to run for teh BLP in this election against Steve Blackett. Owen advised him to step aside for Rudy Grant with the promise of positively reviewing his application to construct 1300 houses in conjunction with a Jamaican firm and Vincent Alleyne, Land Surveyor and GM at NHC.

  29. There is too much hyprocisy in Barbados. Time to stop the rot. Time for a change in Government.

    BTW: Hally Haynes is very close to Mia Mottley and is perceived in many quarters to be to her what Hallam Nicholls is to Owen Arthur … the men with the bag!

  30. Wishing in Vain

    Peter Piper
    You are very well informed indeed, what do you know about an offer made to Barbados Farms of which CO Williams is a director for a plantation in the group which someone made an offer just a couple million dollars short of the price he was offering for all the estates in Barbados Farms and COW refused it saying it was under priced but he now offers for the entire lands of Barbados farms marginally more that what was offered for one estate this sounds like a corrupt act to me.

  31. John

    How could a director of a company say the company is underperforming and proceed to offer to buy it out?

    WIV

    COW could not be a director!!! You got to be joking!!!

    If he is then this got to be one gigantic comedy with everybody brekking for themselves.

    To the Trinis, Hoyos and Brewer and COW and Bizzy, Somewhere Somebody once wrote “Thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s …. assets” and assets include his land, his ox, his ass … even his wife!!

    The body didn’t say anything about if your neighbour was a woman …. but suspect it applies to a lady too!!

    The high fallutin lawyers nowadays would tell you all about the masculine and the feminine and would even pelt in a body corporate.

    But once upon a time, all people had common sense and could figure out all that sort of thing.

  32. John

    I hear they got a fella called Hilford Murrell in all of this too.

  33. Pingback: Sir Charles and Brother Bizzy Williams Launch Take Over Bid For 4000 Acre (6.2 Square Miles) Barbados Farms Limited « Barbados Underground

  34. Rumplestilskin

    ”I want a plantation, want it at any cost, to exploit the poor population…”

    I tell you again, John King really was a prophet…

    John refers”assets include his land, his ox, his ass … even his wife!! ”

    The last two there got me laughing, bearing in mind the predilictions

  35. Rumplestilskin

    Cut off there…bearing in mind the predilictions opf many in these days…

  36. Rumplestilskin

    Do you have to apply for a change of use for them things too???

  37. Rumplestilskin

    Having had some time to think this issue over, I have some other thoughts.

    Firstly, I will emphasise that I personally have nothing against either Williams brother or the fact that they are successful businessmen. What I am about to state has to do with public policy and the implementation thereto.

    In terms of the ‘change of use’ of agricultural lands, which has resulted and continues to result in these ‘new’ properties mainly being owned by a few wealthy invididuals, for manor houses and in some cases, golf courses, we are doing our forebears and the Nation an incredible injustice.

    As I noted before, change of use for such land should only be permitted where assessed as ‘in the national interest’. In this circumstance it may be to provide a special facility or in a few circumstances only housing. Where housing, the average man, whether low or middle income earner, should be able to benefit apart from a few ‘token’ parcels.

    The reality is that only a few wealthy individuals benefit from these ‘new’ lots, for their manor-type housing and in some cases, golf courses.

    This is a national disgrace and morally reprehensible that the descendants of the builders of our Nation, including slaves, indentured servants, including post independence workers among whom number plantation workers, teachers, police, magistrates, garbage collectors etc as nauseum.

    These people, our grandparents, fathers and mothers toiled for the benefit of themselves but also to build the society today.

    Does this count for nought, when today we can now turn and land first goes to foreigners, who can pay the ridiculous price of $25-$60 per square foot? When few individuals are allowed to own massive lot sizes for their mansions, and own more additionally, but the average low and middle income earner cannot even afford a 5000 sq foot lot to put a wooden house on.

    Is this the just rewards of the work of our forebears, when the answer is, in effect, if you can’t afford even a little piece of and to live on, tough? With lip service to providing a few housing unit every three years?

    No, this is morally reprehensible, callous, horrible and disgusting.

    Among the things that should be available to our citizens is hope.

    Today, what with the escalating prices everywhere, particularly land, some have no hope of owning and living in a satisfactory manner, to control their destiny within our society.

    Albeit the cost of goods in the retail markets are set by imported cost and businessmens’ margins, the land use policy in availability and pricing is one thing under the control of the ‘representatives’ of our people.

    Such should be approached and dispensed with fairness, compassion and with recognition of the work of our forebears.

    How many of our forebears had the chance to wrok elsewhere and build a life elsewhere, but chose instead to invest their time, hardwork and abilities in our Nation?

    Is such to be thrown to the wind?

    Have some thought for our forebears, we as their descendants, have some thought for our brethren.

    Without this, the word brethren becomes defunct, the society becomes segmented, it is all ‘brek-fuh-yuhself’ and the Nation, in reality, becomes defunct.

  38. Rumplestilskin

    Above should read”This is a national disgrace and morally reprehensible that the descendants of the builders of our Nation, including slaves, indentured servants, including post independence workers among whom number plantation workers, teachers, police, magistrates, garbage collectors etc as nauseum are sidelined to the benefit of a few, with no recognition of their own input.”

  39. musing

    I noticed a blogger posted COW and Bizzy currently own the equivalent of St. John and St. Phillip in acreage. When the Williams boys get hold of Bdos Farms do they own another two parishes? Owen drag yourself away from Disneyland and speak to us on this grave issue. Barbados being split in two. Half owned by Cow and Bizzy and their kind and the remainder for the masses. What a bangarang.

  40. Anonymous

    musing,you say half but it’s more like three quarters of Barbados,what kills me is that bajans memories are so short,did COW not say that he was not interested in buying anymore land in Barbados after the Whitehall fiasco???these people make me sick to my stomach.

  41. Stand by for a very interesting book coming soon called “The Royal Palms Are Dying”. It will make interesting reading for all those interested in the machinations and intrigue in Barbadian politics and manipulation of politicians by the moneyed class. Stand by for further word on its publication. It is a blockbuster; “an arresting novel which can’t be put aside once you begin reading it,” the comments of one who read the manuscript.

  42. Wishing in Vain

    I am hearing a whisper that an alternative offer is coming shortly that will blow the $ 33 million offer out of the water, it will nearly be doubling the said offer and making it a much more realistic and sensible offer.
    Anyone with any comments on the issue ?

  43. Pingback: Bizzy Williams SHOCKED that people don’t pay invoices, taxes! | Barbados Free Press

  44. Pingback: Land use, land theft, backroom deals a worry for small Caribbean island nations | Barbados Free Press

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