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Former government minister Richard Frederick is questioning whether the current administration had given any proper consideration to the conditions set out in a contract with Desert Star Holdings (DSH) before signing.
During his weekly television programme on MBC ‘Can I Help You’ aired on Thursday, Fredrick blasted the government stating that the signing may have been rushed as there are clear red flags within the said agreement.
The US$2.6 billion agreement was signed between the government and DHS on July 29, 2016.
Referring to a specific clause in the contract that deals with confidentiality and announcements, Frederick said it states that “each party has agreed to keep secret,” and cannot disclose any information regarding the project, negotiations and information concerning the agreement to any third party.
The former housing minister said: “You are singing a document that says you have to keep it secret? And this is the business of the country? What happens to transparency and accountability?”
Frederick, an attorney by profession, believes that the prime minister should not have agreed to these conditions because it should have been made a public document and held to public scrutiny.
He also raised concerns about other parts of the alleged agreement, which states that if a certain amount of investors are not attracted to the project, the government will be responsible for purchasing back the investment.
“If within the first 24 hours of the launch, fewer than 200 investors have invested in the project and the government has implemented everything it could have done, the master developer may terminate the agreement and give the government notice and require the government to purchase all or any part of the land. The provisions of this agreement shall terminate immediately upon the government receiving the buyback notice.”
The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party 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.
But only this week the current administration sought to provide some clarifications with regards to the agreement.
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.”