The government has sought to provide some clarifications with regards to the recently signed US$2.6 billion agreement with Desert Star Holdings (DSH) following major criticisms by the Saint Lucian public.
Investment Minister Bradley Felix told a media conference on Monday (Aug.8) that while his government welcomes questions and scrutiny, the agreement was signed with due consideration.
While explaining that most of the negotiations were done by the previous administration, the minister said that two doubtful clauses have recently been negotiated out of the final agreement.
“Nothing in the agreement purports to guarantee the investor any licenses, approvals or other concessions without due process. Indeed, every undertaking in the agreement is limited to the requirements of the relevant legislation,” he explained.
Felix said the swift conclusion of the agreement asserts heavily on the seizing of opportunities and making of quick but informed decisions, without compromising ‘probity and good governance.’
“The framework agreement has not, and cannot by definition, grant CIP approved status or Development Control Authority (DCA) approval for the project . In fact, DSH is currently pursuing its DCA approval and indeed will be making its application for CIP status once the government has fulfilled its obligations to make the necessary changes to the CIP legislation,” he stated.
The investment project, according to the minister, will see a mixed-use real estate development enterprise involving inter-alia, entertainment and sporting facilities, as a third category under the real estate provisions of the CIP legislation.
Felix said DHS project also encompasses a project that meets the basic stipulation but entails: a horse tracking field, high end hotel residences, a casino, free trade zone, an equine diseases free zone, and marina.
The investment minister also dubunked claims that the project which will occupy 700 acres of undeveloped land will dislocate citizens in the South. Instead, the minister said the project will bring great economic benefits to Saint Lucia.
“The developers have also pledged to partner with the Government of Saint Lucia in holding a series of town hall meetings in the South of the island to inform the immediate communities and the general public of the project and to receive and address all legitimate concerns,” Felix added.
The government has also stated that even though the developer has concerns about the recently constructed meat facility, the building will not be relocated. Instead, the pork aspect will be transferred to another facility.
The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) had raised several concerns about the project stating that there were outstanding issues to be addressed hence why the previous government did not go ahead with the deal.