Dear Honorable Prime Minister:
We, the undersigned youth of Saint Lucia, are distressed by the framework and supplementary agreements that the Government of Saint Lucia, under your leadership, has entered into with DSH Caribbean Limited.
While as youth, who stand most to benefit from judicious investments by the Government, applaud all efforts to building our country, we are concerned, that the aforementioned agreement, in its current form commits most of the prime development lands in the District of Vieux-Fort to one investor. In addition, that arrangement seems heavily weighted in favour of the investor without sufficient safeguards to secure adequate benefits for the country and the people who will be directly impacted.
Honorable Prime Minister, it bears repeating that we are not opposed to the efforts of our Government in sourcing legitimate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) since authentic FDI impacts positively on job creation, poverty reduction, and many other social determinants that impact quality of life for a people, which we are badly in need of to stimulate new economic activity in Saint Lucia. The agreements with DSH requires far too much from our country without demanding satisfactory commitment from this very speculative and clever “investor”. The risks, as the agreements stands outweighs potential benefits, and that borne by the investor hardly seems adequate to provide the necessary safeguards for the returns on investment. Among our many concerns are:
- The agreements give a single investor (DSH Caribbean Star Limited), a virtual monopoly over most of the strategic lands in the town of Vieux-Fort for an entire century (99 years); essentially limiting the balanced development of the town of Vieux-Fort.
- The unprecedented low lease price ($1.00/acre) to be enjoyed by the investor to hold over seven hundred (700) acres of prime St.Lucian lands for ninety-nine (99) years.
- The agreements with DSH crowd out other potential investments that could impact job creation and economic growth positively.
- The agreements give DSH unlimited access to foreign labour, which can limit the ability of that investment to stimulate any appreciable level of employment for Saint Lucians.
- The agreements require huge commitments of our country’s resources with inadequate guarantees from the investor.
- The agreements threaten the continued existence of indigenous businesses which fall within the area demarcated for the proposed investment. Those include businesses that currently employ young Saint Lucians;
- The signed agreements deny local Saint Lucians free access to their own beaches – a situation which will seriously violate our rights as Saint Lucians and which cannot be viewed as acceptable by any patriotic government.
Honorable Prime Minister, in view of the foregoing, we (the informal group of young people) believe that there has not been adequate stakeholder engagements, to include the youth, and in particular residents in the southern region, to properly obtain their views on the terms and conditions under which the DSH project is contemplated. As a result, we wish to request that the concerns raised through this formal medium be addressed through major multiple stakeholder meetings that addresses the issues raised and alleviate the concerns of the citizenry.
We trust that concerns raised will be received with the seriousness with which they have been expressed, and in the light of patriotism, open governance and transparency that inspired this action. It is hoped, that the Government of Saint Lucia, under auspicious leadership, will urgently reconsider this dangerous deal with DSH so as to secure more tangible benefits for St. Lucia and especially its youth who will be around to feel any future negative fallout.
We are prepared to continue to organize and mobilize young people with the view to establish a formal grouping to engage you in discussions on the foregoing or to demonstrate against the current agreements with DSH. In addition, we intend to formally engage with all Saint Lucian stakeholders, most of which are copied in this letter. Further, we shall hold formal talks with Her Majesty’s Opposition as well as lobby government parliamentarians with the sole intention of building bi-partisan Parliamentary support for our cause.
As young advocates who have found a voice in this country, and who are determined to be part of the governance of our inheritance, we wish to note, that even if our efforts to influence local stakeholders fail we shall continue our fight alone, until there is an acceptable agreement (if possible) between the Government of Saint Lucia and DSH Caribbean Limited; failing which, the project should be discontinued.
Please accept our communication as an indication of our desire to ensure that the national interest is safeguarded.