The government of Antigua and Barbuda has helped expedite the development of Australian billionaire James Packer and actor Robert De Niro’s $US250 million Caribbean resort and casino.
Named the Paradise Found Bill, the new bill also gives the business partners a 25 year tax holiday.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, a strong supporter of the project said that the Paradise Found Bill was initiated as the government felt the legislation was necessary to support a project that had been stymied by “manoeuvrings of persons” in Barbuda.
He said although “detractors” had lost a court case attempting to stop the project, on a technicality under the Barbuda Land Act, an appeal had been lodged which was causing further delay to the development.
“The application of the Barbuda Land Act (BLA) has proved not to be investor friendly,” the Prime Minister said.
The plan is to develop the resort on the site of K Club, which was one Princess Diana’s Caribbean hideaways, but abandoned for more than 11 years. It would include a five-star boutique hotel, a high end eco-lodge, a marina with jetties for luxury yachts, a casino and an airport for executive jets.
However, concerns have been raised that the new bill, which supersedes the Barbuda Land Act, involves surrendering land owned by the small island’s 1600 residents.