Dr Ernest Hilaire issues statement on Desert Star Holdings Project

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Dr Ernest Hilaire issues statement on Desert Star Holdings Project
Castries South MP
Castries South MP
Castries South MP

PRESS RELEASE – The Saint Lucia Labour Party notes with deep interest the signing of a Master Agreement between Desert Star Holdings (DSH) and the Government of Saint Lucia signalling CIP-approval status, DCA approval and the right to start implementation of a major project in Vieux Fort South.

It is interesting that the former SLP Government was in negotiations with the developer over a period of at least eighteen months and within less than two months of being elected to office, the Allen Chastanet led Government has signed on the dotted line and agreed to proceed with the project. We note that the project has been signed with absolutely no dialogue by the current Government with the community of Vieux Fort.

The Labour Party believes that the project, if it materialises, has the potential to contribute significantly to the development of the southern part of the island, diversify the island’s investment portfolio and in particular, help to reduce unemployment in the island. For the promised benefits to materialise, the project will have to be designed and implemented with considerable sensitivity as it could cause major disruption and dislocation in the lives of citizens in the south of the island.

The SLP Party points out that whilst it had agreed on most of the fundamental points of the agreement with the Developer, DSH, there were some critical elements which required national consultation and even parliamentary debate and approval.

As a Government, the Party has always maintained that as long as government, particularly Ministers and indeed the Minister responsible for Citizenship by Investment allow the staff of the CIP Unit to operate independently, the program could, yield benefits to Saint Lucia.

Before demitting office, the Labour Party Government approved four projects under the CIP Programme:

1. Bay Gardens Residences in Rodney Bay;

2. Belevedere Estate in Belvedere, Canaries;

3. Sunset Bay in Choiseul; and

4. Range Developments in Black Bay, Laborie.

All four were reviewed by the CIP Unit and Invest Saint Lucia to ensure that all requirements, including due diligence of the potential investors, were met. All four projects also received “approval in principle” by the DCA. Following these approvals, the CIP Unit recommended the projects to the Minister for Citizenship by Investment for onward transmission to Cabinet for its approval.

Accordingly, the Saint Lucia Labour Party wishes to seek clarification on the following:

1. The press release speaks to the Desert Star project being the first and only integrated resort development project in Saint Lucia. Does that mean that the Allen Chastanet Government agreed that there cannot be any approval given to a local or foreign investor for another integrated resort development? If so, can the Prime Minister clarify what was agreed upon as an integrated resort development? Were any exclusive rights given to DSH for the operation of a casino, horse racing facility, betting facilities or citizenship by investments? If so, how would these concessions, if granted, impact other investors who may wish to invest in Saint Lucia presently and in the future?

2. The Prime Minister announced that horse racing aspect will become a qualifying investment. The Saint Lucia Labour Party must ask why this is necessary if the horse racing facility and casino are parts of a hotel development project which currently qualifies as an investment under the CIP. Further does that mean that any investor interested in horse racing can apply under the CIP or is this exclusive for DSH?

3. The Saint Lucia Labour Party wishes to enquire whether the Saint Lucia National Trust provided its support for the project as submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers. It recalls that there were extensive environmental issues with the project, especially with the use of the Mankote′ Swamp. The SLP had involved the National Trust in the preliminary discussions but wishes to enquire whether they were consulted before the final agreement was signed.

4. The Saint Lucia Labour Party notes the procedures for CIP-approval status to be given and wishes to know whether the CIP Unit received an application from the developers or CIP approval in accordance with the Act and its Regulations? More specifically, the Saint Lucia Labour Party wishes to know whether the CIP Unit approved and made a recommendation for the project to be approved.

5. The Saint Lucia Labour Party also notes that for a project to receive CIP-approved status it must be granted DCA ‘approval in principle’. Did the DCA provide such approval? This is critical because once a project is CIP-approved, the developer can commence selling investments which is a right to citizenship but if there is no DCA approval the project cannot commence. Further, if it is never approved what happens to the investments which applicants would have made? Therefore, has the DSH being given approval to commence marketing and selling citizenship through investment BEFORE it has DCA and CIP approval?

6. The Government statement suggests that CIP applications for Desert Star will be accelerated. The Labour Party does not think that any particular investor should be ‘pre-approved’ or receive preferential treatment as this undermines the CIP. All applications regardless of the source must follow the prescribed due diligence process to maintain the integrity of the CIP.

7. The Prime Minister also announced that the limit for citizenships to be granted through investment will be increased from the present limit of 500 applications as prescribed by

Legislation. The Saint Lucia Labour Party wishes to inform the Prime Minister that he cannot on his own increase the limit. Only the Parliament of Saint Lucia can do so. Therefore, has DSH been guaranteed an annual number of citizenships through investment which is more than 500? If so, did the Prime Minister promise DSH that he would seek parliamentary approval? If so, what is the number of applications for citizenship that the Government agreed to prescribe for DSH?

8. The Prime Minister’s statement refers to the project as a US$2.6 bn project. The Labour Party seeks clarification as to whether this is the development cost or is this development cost plus DSH’s profit? It is significant as the figure determines the citizenship allocation for the developer. Assuming the development cost is only US$1b but profit is US$1.6bn, it means that Saint Lucia has to provide citizenships for development cost plus US$1.6bn to meet profit. It is for this reason that each project must be reviewed by Invest Saint Lucia and the CIP Unit before a recommendation can be made to the Minister for submission to Cabinet for approval. Can the Government clarify whether the lands and mangrove will sold or leased to the developer and if so, at what rate? And if not, will Government be transferring the lands and mangrove free to the developer?

9. The Saint Lucia Labour Party also wishes to enquire as to what sovereign guarantees or undertakings to make repayments were given to DSH in the event that the project is not successful? If the project does not commence or all phases are not completed, what is provided for the return of the lands and mangrove to the people of Saint Lucia?

10. Finally, the Saint Lucia Labour Party wishes the Government to clarify whether it has, as is required under the CIP regulations, completed or has in hand the due diligence reports. No project, regardless of size, scale or potential should be approved without sufficient due diligence. Previously, the Prime Minister was very critical of the CIP calling for transparency and voicing concerns with due diligence process. This is an ideal opportunity for the Prime Minister to assure the nation that the CIP due diligence process was completed and is to satisfaction.

Finally, I wish to repeat that the Saint Lucia Labour Party commenced negotiations for this investment project and is fully supportive of its completion and of all the projects which were negotiated during the Labour Party period in Government. However, we need to be satisfied that the Government did not act with undue haste and has protected and preserve the best interests of the people of Saint Lucia.

(16)(42)

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25 COMMENTS

  1. I don't recall Lorne ever meeting with the people of choiseul to discuss the impact of the proposed hotel in that area. I suppose it's a matter of convenience consulting the people.

    (1)(0)

  2. wow...i think i jus wasted part of my life reading that crap SLP put out. now all of a sudden SLP want to say they were in talks with DSH over that same project. did SLP ever mention anything about a proposed project for the south?? NO is the answer. for 20years and more SLP has done nothing for the south of St Lucia, now that UWP has sign an agreement to bring a major development to the south SLP want to run come up and talk about they had talks with DSH before. yall better jus SHUT THE **** UP. sad that this politics game will never change. even when someone is tryin to do good he will be subject to this sort of alligations just to try and dirty his name.

    let me ask...did Kenny consult the people of vieux fort before starting the dreaded project opposite uptown store??? the amount of dust that is currently going to the VF school jus on the side of the contruction project, how do you think this will affect the students when school opens. did Kenny consider that??

    stop talkin yall BULLSH** SLP and jus let the South be developed.

    (5)(3)

    • Reallyyy....reallyyy!!!!! Smh......u really hv no ? S as to how a newly elected government (june 6, 2016)signed a dillion dollar project in aug 2016...I guess the ideas..drawing...and eveything else fell from the sky...the if soo....I suppose the new gov. Wudnt need four years to fulfil their promises.but rather at the end of this year....just sayinn

      (1)(0)

  3. IT IS SO ODD THAT IN MY PERSONAL EXPERERIENCES WITH GOVERNMENT THAT EVEN AS I PERSONALLY CREATE AND DEVELOP PROJECTS TO ASSIST MY GOVERNMENT IN CREATING JOBS. INFRASTRUCTURE. AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMEMT NO ONE GIVE ME CREDIT FOR ALL MY HARD WORK BUT NONE THE LESS I LOOK AT THE TELEVISION AND SEE MY WORK BEING ANNOUSED AND IT IS DONE HALF WAY BECAUSE THE REAL ARCHITECTS ARE NOT INVOLVED IN THE GENERAL DEVELOPMENT WE MUST BE MINDFUL AND ALLOW THE MINDS OF GOOD MEN TO BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN THE PROSESS AND NOT TURN IT OVER TO POLITICAL HACKS.

    (1)(1)

  4. So many times Hilaire was asked to make a statement regarding the juffalli affair he never took the opportunity or even acknowledge the calls of the populace to be transparent. Now he has the gall to call upon the government to be transparent and consult the people..........wow Hilaire PLEASE take a seat with shadow minister role.

    (4)(0)

  5. Fool. So hilaire not allowing for work done by the slp to be used in arriving at a decision.
    That is called building on what has been done previously.

    May be slp was to busy in underhand moves the developers did not take them on

    (0)(0)

  6. way way way Mr. Hilaire, stop lying dere, SLP approve five projects you forgot to mention Juffalli,
    imagine we don't have a manufacturing sector vibrant enough, our export industry is weak, our health care system, pas mem parlez, our justice system, well that's our biggest mangrove. foreign direct investment is so critical, even Dubai relies on foreign investment in all their mega projects. vieux fort is an absolute disgrace, only certain merchants are smiling, the majority of the south is on a go slow, you guys were rushing to get the CIP in place, because after all it was the only way you brought in investors during your five years. Mr. Hiliare I am 400% for due diligence, but coming from YOU!!!!!! uhhhhhhhh, you must have a severe case of amnesia. let someone else blow that whistle, your mouth is still greasy from Juffali soup. you should not even be illegible for public office much less, sayyyyy, where the heck is PIP? why shouldn't this press release be coming from PIP? anyway, cut all the drama, stop using this as a political football, the south is in dire need of development, and dire is an understatement. there is enough technology available now to make this project eco friendly, the Dinosaurs at the National trust only know what can't be done, they are clueless as to what can be done.

    (7)(0)

  7. I get that Mr. Hilaire was heading the C.I.P. but I'm just wondering, shouldn't the leader of the opposition--Mr. Phillip J. Pierre--be the one to issue such statement?
    Just wondering...
    Is there a power struggle in the Labour camp?

    (3)(0)

  8. Time will tell what we are getting into. In a matter of time, we can be out numbered. All we get for this is scraps. It's not worth it. Our kids' future is at stake !

    (3)(4)

  9. Yes politics will never stop and none of these parties have st lucians at heart. Hilaire is speaking up all of a sudden asking if CIP was consulted. Did the SLP administration indicate that they were negotiating with these investors ? and why can't they come foward and tell us the exact problems that they had with this sort of investment and why it was stalled. Can they tell us why they sort to not include the St Lucian guy who actually was instrumental in getting this investment. When they talk about persons were not consulted Hilaire forgot that Kenny never took the advice of civil servants or technocrats or the general public and went ahead and did what ever he wanted. Too many games and the hacks themselves have no answers because no party is giving us the true picture or information but we are arguing like a bunch of fools instead of asking the serious questions from both sides.

    (22)(3)

  10. Smh...I can never understand why we defend party or politicians and not read to understand for our own edification, follow up with research and then form our own opinions and judgment. Let us always always put our country and country folk first. Stop reading with colour blinds on...one is not better than the other.

    (12)(2)

  11. You keep making reference to the Government as the "Allen Chastanet" Government;
    may I remind you, that the Election and the politics thereof is over. The present Government
    is the "Government of St. Lucia" I hope you have realized that the fight, namely, between
    "Labour and Chastanet" was over on the 6/6/16. It was not Chastanet but the combined
    "United Workers Party" on the whole were victorious; game over. Now you know that you
    owe great thanks to the folks of Hospital Road (Fou-a-Choud) for being politically alive, don't
    ever forget them.

    (33)(2)

  12. The questions asked by Dr. Hilaire are relevant. Stop being so petty, this is what you should expect from good opposition. He is simply asking if all necessary precautions were undertaken in the event the damn thing never materializes. He is asking for transparency. Take time to read and understand before you comment.

    (33)(32)

  13. Hialre you and the former government had no plans and no vision for the people in the south. Kenny was the Prime minister and he did nothing for his constituency. Vieux Fort is just the same as it was 30 years ago. You now want to say the Prime Minister did not have any dialogue with the community of Vieux Fort before signing . Well did you have any dialogue with us when Jufalli was appointed? The Prime Minister is now trying to develop the country, to bring jobs etc. to the people and have them smiling again with money in their pocket in sweet St. Lucia. Now we put you on the back burner do not bother to come forward, stay in the back.This is not your role

    (116)(7)

  14. What I am certain about is that there was no money under the table. I hope that was not the reason for the delay in the signing of the project. Billions of dollars??????????

    (8)(2)

  15. Earnest all we want to know is the truth behind juffali and what investment did he truly have to offer st.lucia .

    (21)(4)

  16. "there were some critical elements which required national consultation and even parliamentary debate and approval"

    All I can say is WOW! Mr. Helaire. WOW!

    The Jufalli issue still fresh in our minds make me want to call you a name.

    No body knew about Jufalli, now you are making demands to publicise (parliamentary debate and approval?)

    Some making a mockery of St Lucians. A statement was made on June 6th.

    (15)(4)

  17. They are all releasing press releases. Almost like they are smelling blood. Too bad that these guys are not understanding that people need development and jobs. Get past the paperwork, negotiate and execute! Were you people so busy waiting for or trying to get payouts from these people? Chas dont operate like that probably because he understands that the payouts are on the back end. Freaking retards!

    (27)(5)

  18. Interesting Mr. Magician...people like you are part of the problem, already assuming that the other side was ready to sign without any shred of evidence. Be informed prior to making blanket statements. The writer is implying that we need to do due diligence before tackling a project which will have major implications for the landscape and environment....Did not see anything negative in his statement.

    (22)(32)

  19. Quick to ensure the blame is off your back if these investments goes belly up huh! your party negotiated and you want the praise, that's fine.....but if something goes wrong don't blame you all right??? Blame the government becuz they signed too quickly based on your negotiations . however if they were to back out which i'm sure was already in the signing stages when the new gov'n took office the former admin would be spitting fire and calling for bad governance. I tell you politics will never stop.

    (74)(25)

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