Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Hilaire Got It Wrong Again!

By Dominic Fedee, Minister of Tourism

It is unfortunate that as a sitting parliamentarian, Castries South MP Dr. Ernest Hilaire continues to mislead the public on matters of national importance.

His most recent offence of political heresy is the clear misrepresentation of the Virgin Atlantic Issue. Dr. Hilaire clearly has not researched the numbers. Had he done so, he’d know that as tourism minister Allen Chastanet never had a budget of $250 million.  

Further, the figures Dr Hilaire used to indicate the subsidy spend of other Caribbean islands to Virgin Atlantic are unverifiable since the islands would have signed a confidentiality clause to safeguard the sensitivity of such commercial information.

The confidentiality clause was never signed by Saint Lucia as we have never reached an agreement with Virgin Atlantic. And why would responsible governments around the region share this information with Dr Hilaire and open up themselves to requests from other carriers who may be disadvantaged by the subsidy to another airline? 

The right precedent has been set by this government respectfully saying no to Virgin Atlantic’s request for a subsidy. It is clear to the industry that we are interested in a sustainable business approach as it relates to flights coming to Saint Lucia. While the government of Saint Lucia supports sharing the financial risk for start-up flights, we are of the firm belief that airline routes after two or three years of government support should become financially viable. 

In the last eight months, Saint Lucia has attracted eight new weekly flights with seven directly from Miami and one from Chicago, starting December 19. We are proud that none of the above-mentioned attracted Minimum Return Guarantee (MRG).

This demonstration of confidence by other carriers in our destination makes it even more difficult to justify subsidies to any carrier at this time. Like those carriers, I believe in the power of the St. Lucian brand, the hospitality prowess of its tourism professionals and the legend of its natural beauty. 

The case before us is one that requires critical analysis, not hit or miss political mud-slinging. It would be difficult to spend 20% of our marketing budget for a return of 7% of our global passenger arrivals, especially when other airlines are planning their own growth strategy for Saint Lucia without the need for subsidies. 

Moreover, the aspiration of a regional approach is most ideal in circumstances such as these, but it must also be appreciated that the Caribbean does not have the best track record on the whole subject of integration and functional cooperation. I must highlight that despite our attempts to arrive at a regional consensus on the Virgin matter, we appreciate that our sister Caribbean islands are in a different place in their development of tourism and more importantly airlift capacity. Thankfully on this occasion, Saint Lucia has the option to say no.  

We feel further justified, as in consultation with the local private sector on Saturday July 26 the overriding consensus was that the level of investment required to keep the Virgin flight into Saint Lucia is burdensome on national tourism marketing budgets. While as an industry both the private and public sectors would have loved to keep the Virgin flight flying, we appreciate that as an industry a better return on investment can be attained. It was a clear business decision in the best interest of Saint Lucia. As indicated by me publicly, we continue to be open to further dialogue with Virgin Atlantic with a view to arriving at a mutually beneficial corporate relationship.  

 As for Dr Hilaire this is not his first attempt at misleading the people of Saint Lucia in his own political interests. Just recently in the House of Parliament, the Prime Minister had to set him right when Hilaire publicly asserted that the CIP figures were not included in the Estimates, when in fact the figures were clearly outlined in the document.

 He has also told many untruths on the controversial tourism development at Black Bay by failing to acknowledge the former SLP administration sold acres of prime beach front land six days before the 2016 general elections, and below market value. This much can be gleaned from the development agreement signed by former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony on May 31st, 2016. 

The list of Dr Hilaire’s fabrications is quite long, and confirms my recent public characterization of him as a false prophet.  

16 COMMENTS

  1. These two MPs always at each other’s throat. I wish that none of them would come back to the House next elections. Acting very childish.

    • Debate among politicians are good and not childish. Calling each other names and other innuendo is childish. Know the difference and be smart.

  2. This back and forth is so petty. We should be given real data so we can make educated judgements on what the truth is. Words are meaningless without data. At least Hillary had numbers which you insinuated were wrong. What are the really numbers….at least ballpark figures should do? I think both you guys are politicians and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. 250 million was not the right number, what is it? I am almost certain you as minister of tourism have a reasonable good idea what each country is paying to the airlines even with confidentiality.

    • Well said Lincoln, but please note data can be manipulated and construed to fit the purpose.

      You’re so right the above article is typical of 1940s style of politics and a blatant disregard of our intelligence.

  3. Political fluff piece, if you really wrote this Mr. Fedee please take that time to focus on the people of Anse-la Raye please

    • Yeah and actually take notice of the signs that people put up about the Marigot ( one of the main tourist destinations) road, Hilaire and the community managed to get some of the pot holes filled but not all – why don’t you do something Mr Gingerbread man? The way I see it is you are all out for yourself and don’t give a damn about the real people out here.

  4. well everyone know Hi-Liar is a a bobolis and a mah-tere! folks it really bad. these people have the info on mate antics and lies…so they know what they talking about when it comes to that false prophet.

  5. Man u and your ministers go coach yoll leader tan..how can lucia invest and the population decrease ..cause health care is in reverse..i guest the forieghners will bring in there workers………..

    (We need)
    (Better health care for a healthy economy)
    (Youth crying out for help)
    (Eduction is a must)
    (Nationals first)

  6. The piece of ROAD to Marigot Bay needs fixing. None of you all are fixing. Plenty Tourist come here, no one is fixing. Only citizens are patching, none of the regimes are fixing. Talk talk talk and no fixing!

  7. Doginic, why does your Govt continue to break our laws by not disclosing where and how our CIP monies are being spent?

    And that’s not hear say, not once has Parliament been briefed. Is this not a matter of national importance.

    One can only blame us the people for continuously accepting utterances, lies from an inept, not fit for purpose cabinet.

  8. When you say our cip money ..how much did you put in it .. when you’ll want to blow you’ll A square sos . you’ll saying anything that you’ll know nothing about.
    Idiot.

    • Government works for the people, so it has to be the people’s money. Anon is right, there has been no accountability with regards to the CPI monies. Where is all this money going. Enquiring minds want to know.

  9. Dominic , try to fix the Marigot roads. Yiu will do alot better than attacking Hilaire. Attack the roads, take care of you constituants. I hope the house you renting Beausejour, for your JABAL,is not CIP money🤔🤔

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