Leader of the Opposition Phillip J. Pierre has reiterated his party’s position on the agreement signed between Desert Star Holding (DSH) and the Government of Saint Lucia, arguing that the project requires a greater level of due diligence.
Pierre addressing the media at a press conference on Thursday said that August 3, 2016, the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) had issued a press release soon after the agreement was signed with DSH for a mixed real estate development in Vieux Fort.
The SLP had asked government to provide clarification on a number of issues relating to the project, as the party believed the government failed to provide adequate answers to the questions posed.
But, the opposition leader said, “The responses provided by the Prime Minister, Hon. Bradley Felix and the CEO of Invest Saint Lucia did not address the fundamental concerns raised (for ease of reference, we are recirculating our initial Press Statement).”
Over the last few days, there has been in the public domain the circulation of two documents purporting to be the DSH Agreement with the Government of Saint Lucia.
Pierre said there has been no denial on the authenticity of the contents by the government and it is reasonable to assume that the contents are the details of what was signed between the Government of Saint Lucia and DSH.
“Consider for a moment it was election time, the Government could have attempted to achieve major publicity and goodwill by signing and announcing the project. It would have been the easy thing to do. But that would have been wrong and irresponsible. The Agreement would have been a bad deal for Saint Lucia. The Saint Lucia Labour Party believed at that time and still believes that it is an unacceptable deal that will be harmful to the people and possibly the economy of the island,” he explained.
According to Pierre, in the latter stages of negotiations, the SLP initiated a consultative process where it invited civil society groups including representatives from Vieux Fort and the Saint Lucia National Trust to have direct interaction and dialogue with the developers before any Agreement was signed.
He reminded that the project seeks to acquire 700 acres of private and state land in Vieux Fort and that the public must be comfortable with the economic, social and environmental impacts.
“We believe that that process of consultation should continue and the magnitude of the project requires a greater level of due diligence to ensure that Saint Lucia is not adversely affected.”
The SLP, he said, supports the creation of an enabling environment for investment but that cannot be at the expense of the future of our people.
“It is the duty of government to protect the people and not to engage in reckless behaviour that compromises the future generation. We must always act in a manner which is responsible and be fully aware that the decisions we make today, may seem to have short-term benefits but we must ensure that there are not any long term negative consequences. This project as proposed places the entire future of Vieux Fort at risk. It takes away Vieux Fort from the people of Saint Lucia. It annexes the town of Vieux Fort and prevents any further development in the future.”