Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has said he is disappointed at the way in which investors are being treated by the St. Lucia National Trust (SLNT).
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Chastanet was referring to the SLNT’s first membership meeting on March 11 where officials from Dolphin Park Inc made a presentation on the proposed dolphin park at Pigeon Island.
“On record again, I am extremely disappointed in how investors were dealt with,” Chastanet said.
“All they were doing was making a request. The level of abusiveness that took place at that meeting is unbecoming and disrespectful, particularly in an environment in which we are trying to attract investors here,” he added.
Chastanet has called on Director of the St. Lucia National Trust Bishnu Tulsie to retract the “false” allegations he has made.
“I am also saying that we need to stop this emotional argument, give us the facts. So, Mr. Tulsie went on record and made some allegations of which they are false and I am even further disappointed at the person of his standing and bestowed the level of trust that he has been, that he chose to lie to the extent he did. And I am asking him to retract those statements,” the prime minister said.
According to a press release from the SLNT on its March 11 meeting, which attracted 222 members and staff of the Trust and 70 non-members, one of the main highlights was the presentation on the proposed dolphin park.
The release went on to state: “Following their presentation, the members vehemently opposed any such project on the grounds that it would desecrate the historic value of the only National Landmark on the island. They also indicated that they will not stand for the captivity of dolphins which are highly intelligent species and that this would affect employment for existing industries.
“For clarity the attendees were also asked if they were in favour of a Dolphin Park anywhere else on the island and to this they unanimously voted ‘NO’.
“Both members and non-members stated that Saint Lucia has more to lose from such a project than it has to gain, for example, they said Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will boycott any other country that sets up a dolphinarium. Another member also stated it would be foolhardy for Saint Lucia to go in this direction when the rest of the world seems to moving away from dolphinariums, as many dolphin parks are closing,” the release added.
At a press conference on March 16, held by the Trust, Tuslie said the organisation will take legal action against the proposed dolphin park project if the need arises.
“We have the power of public opinion. Given the mandate of our members we may have to pursue legal actions but we are hoping it does not come down to that,” Tulsie posited.
Tulsie said at the conference that while Dolphin Discovery Inc. has boasted of the potential employment for abouty 60 persons, the National Trust feels that way more than 60 will lose employment should the project materialise.
“The people who operate the diving facilities, people from the hotel, we have a snorkel and scrubber operation, are going to lose those jobs. That restaurant is likely to be closed and they employ 16 persons,” the director said.
Tulsie also expressed concern over the possible “negative press” St. Lucia stands to gain over the establishment of a dolphin park.