Tourism Minister, Dominic Fedee, has blasted Castries South MP, Ernest Hilaire as being a ‘false prophet’ who ‘spreads heresy’, as the minister responded to the opposition MP’s assertions this week about Range Development.
The company was planning to construct a Ritz Carlton Hotel at Black Bay, Vieux Fort.
Bu it demanded compensation after problems developed with the project.
Minister Fedee told reporters Friday that he wanted to make it ‘absolutely clear’ that the government of Saint Lucia did not pay $20 million and is not planning to pay $20 million to settle the Range Development matter.
“It is to be noted that the settlement between Range and the government is actually going to cost the government a net gain of about $EC 21.6 million,” he explained.
“We have to understand that what the Range Developer, Mr. Mohammed, would have actually sold in CIP revenue that went into the consolidated fund, somewhere in the region of about 14 to 20 million US dollars and so the CIP Department has estimated that in terms of CIP sales, there is a 14 million US dollar factor that would have been brought about from the efforts of the Range Development.”
Fdeee disclosed that as a result, there is a total of direct and indirect contributions in the sum of 54 million EC dollars from the Range Developer that went directly to the government and the people of this country.
The minister observed that the other part of the settlement is the land transaction which took place just before the last election.
“Quite interestingly, the transaction – the developer would have bought the lands for $3 a square foot. This was signed by the previous administration 4 days before the election.”
According to Fedee, the land is valued somewhere in the region of about 16 to 20 dollars a square foot but it was sold 4 days before the elections for $3 a square foot.
“So what is being remitted to the investor now in exchange for the land is 2.5 million US dollars or 6.75 million EC dollars – the actual price that he paid for the land as the settlement and so you cannot say that the government is paying this money. All we are doing is refunding the investor the money he paid for the land.”
“So here we have an opportunity to get 40 acres of prime beach front land located next to the international airport back into the hands of the state and which the government can in the future leverage for even higher returns rather than rushing and selling it cheaply just before an election campaign,” he told reporters.
The minister noted that In the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) protocol, a commission is given to promotors, in which people who actually sell CIP products from Saint Lucia qualify for a 10 percent commission from the government.
He stated that he government is actually paying a total of $EC 5.4 million dollars to the Range Developer in commissions.
“So when you look at the value of the land, 6.75 million, the commission owed to Range $5.4 million, you see already that there is a total of about 12 million which we would have had to pay for the land and commission in CIP sales so what you are seeing is a net gain to the county of 21.6 million dollars.
“Mr. Hilaire continues to be true to form he is a false prophet that spreads heresy,” Fedee said of the Castries South MP who this week said that the opposition had had learnt that Range Developments requested a settlement of about EC$20m for costs incurred and that this should be settled by July 1st.
“Apparently, was no settlement even after the Prime Minister had publicly accepted responsibility for the delays in the project. We would further learn that Range Developments had served the Attorney General a notice of intent to sue. This time the claim will be for cost and aggravated damages totally over EC$100M,” Hilaire had asserted.
Minister Fedee said Friday that discussions with Range have been ‘very amicable and that a joint statement would be issued regarding the details of the development.