Press Release:–STATEMENT BY HON. PHILIP J PIERRE
POLITICAL LEADER OF THE SAINT LUCIA LABOUR PARTY
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
TO THE PRESS ON DECEMBER 7, 2016 ON THE DSH AGREEMENT SIGNED WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF SAINT LUCIA
Gentlemen and Ladies of the Press,
You would recall that on 3rd August 2016, the Saint Lucia Labour Party issued a Press Release soon after the Government of Saint Lucia announced that it had signed an Agreement with Desert Star Holding (DSH) for a mixed real estate development in Vieux Fort. In that Press Release, the Saint Lucia Labour Party asked the Government to provide clarification on a number of issues relating to the Project.
The Government failed to provide adequate answers to the questions posed. The responses provided by the Prime Minister, Hon. Bradley Felix and the CEO of Invest Saint Lucia did not address the fundamental concerns raised (for ease of reference, we are recirculating our initial Press Statement).
Over the last few days, there has been in the public domain the circulation of two documents purporting to be the DSH Agreement with the Government of Saint Lucia. There has been no denial on the authenticity of the contents by the government and it is reasonable to assume that the contents are the details of what was signed between the Government of Saint Lucia and DSH.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party wishes to repeat that it commenced negotiations with DSH nearly three years ago. We believe that investment projects are needed in the island and particularly in the South. We spent many months negotiating with DSH to arrive at a fair and balanced Agreement that will bring benefit to both the developer and to Saint Lucia. At the time of the June 6th general elections, the Government did not believe that the Agreement as it stood was acceptable and was in the best interest of Saint Lucia.
Consider for a moment it was election time, the Government could have attempted to achieve major publicity and goodwill by signing and announcing the project. It would have been the easy thing to do. But that would have been wrong and irresponsible. The Agreement would have been a bad deal for Saint Lucia. The Saint Lucia Labour Party believed at that time and still believes that it is an unacceptable deal that will be harmful to the people and possibly the economy of the island.
In the latter stages of negotiations, the Saint Lucia Labour Party initiated a consultative process where it invited civil society groups including representatives from Vieux Fort and the Saint Lucia National Trust to have direct interaction and dialogue with the developers before any Agreement was signed This project seeks to acquire 700 acres of private and state land in Vieux Fort the public must be comfortable with the economic, social and environmental impacts. We believe that that process of consultation should continue and the magnitude of the project requires a greater level of due diligence to ensure that Saint Lucia is not adversely affected.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party supports the creation of an enabling environment for investment but that cannot be at the expense of the future of our people. It is the duty of government to protect the people and not to engage in reckless behaviour that compromises the future generation. We must always act in a manner which is responsible and be fully aware that the decisions we make today, may seem to have short-term benefits but we must ensure that there are not any long term negative consequences. This project as proposed places the entire future of Vieux Fort at risk. It takes away Vieux Fort from the people of Saint Lucia. It annexes the town of Vieux Fort and prevents any further development in the future.
I will now ask Hon. Ernest Hilaire to address some clauses in the Agreements that we find unacceptable.