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(CMC) – Former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony Friday said he had filed a claim in the High Court against the St. Lucia government regarding the agreements reached with the Hong Kong based Desert Star Holdings Ltd (DSH).
The Allen Chastanet government has in the past defended the US$2.6-billion “Pearl of the Caribbean” project as “one of the most adventurous and ambitious projects in the Caribbean”.
The project, which entails a horse racing track, high-end hotel and residences, a casino, free trade zone, an equine diseases-free zone, and a marina, is being undertaken by the Hong Kong-based developers and the government said it is poised to make St Lucia “an even more unique destination and create economic activity as never before seen in the south of the island”.
But Anthony, the parliamentary representative for Vieux Fort South, where most of the project will be established, is asking the High Court to declare that the agreements between the government and DSH are “unconstitutional, null and void”
He is also arguing that the financial arrangements underpinning the agreements are unlawful as they are in breach of the Finance Administration Act of St. Lucia, the Citizenship by Investment Act and the Regulations made under the Act.
Anthony, whose St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration lost the last general election here in 2016, is also seeking declarations that the agreements to grant concessions are “irrational and an abuse of the discretionary powers of the government of St. Lucia”.
The High Court is also being asked to order an injunction on the project if it rules in favour of the claimant.
“I have taken this step because I believe that the agreements as presently exist are not in the best interest of my constituents, the neighbouring constituencies of Vieux Fort North and Augier/Laborie and indeed, the people of St. Lucia,” Anthony said.
“The agreements will destroy and/or inflict considerable harm on the farmers in my constituency and nearby communities. Already, several cattle farmers have lost their animals because of the indiscriminate removal of fencing protecting grazing grounds by the contractor engaged in preparing the horse racing site.
“The traditional grazing grounds on the Beausajour site no longer exists. Some farmers have also abandoned their animals and their crops as a direct result of the actions of the government,” he said, adding ‘It is irrational to deactivate a just completed meat processing facility which was a gift from a foreign government at a cost of approximately EC$24 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents), the location of which was once held to be strategic to cater for the needs of the farmers in the immediate and surrounding communities”.
Anthony, who is also an attorney, argues that the agreements strips the people of Vieux Fort of their patrimony, access to beaches and surrounding lands.
“Vieux Fortians will become prisoners in their own community. The proposed development will undoubtedly suffocate the town of Vieux Fort and its future expansion and development. Further, I cannot accept that the site which accommodates the National Stadium should be yielded to DSH,” Anthony said.
He said that the proposed method of financing the proposed development “is outrageous and an abuse of the goodwill of the people of St. Lucia.
“These agreements are not, in my view, in the interest of my constituents and indeed the people of Saint Lucia. As I have said before, I will oppose these agreements with every ounce of strength that I have,” said Anthony, who is by represented by a team headed by Dominican Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan.