CASTRIES, St Lucia, May 23, (CMC) - Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has criticised the main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) of seeking to threaten and scare away investors who are being wooed by his administration.
At a news conference on Monday, the Prime Minister accused the SLP of not making investments in the southern town of Vieux Fort during the 15 years they were in power.
He told reports that despite the threats and scaremongering particularly by former Prime Minister and district representative for Vieux Fort South, Dr. Kenny Anthony, his government is “committed” to ensuring that its developments come to fruition.
“We are going to abide by the rule of law in this country. We are committed to making these developments happen and to improve the plight of St Lucians in the south. The people in the south have suffered for too long.”
Chastanet was responding to Anthony – a former Prime Minister, who told a public meeting of opposition supporters that he will not rest until the proposed multi-billion dollar Desert Star Holding (DSH) Pearl of the Caribbean project in Vieux Fort is re-negotiated or stopped.
During a television interview days later Anthony also accused DHS’s Malaysian Developer Teo Ah Khing of attempting to use the investment to divide the country and warned that as long as he was the district representative for the southern constituency, he will do everything to ensure that this investment does not come to St.Lucia.
The public meeting where he first spoke came immediately after an anti-policy public protest that attracted scores of people.
At the time of that protest, supporters of the DSH project conducted a similar demonstration in Vieux Fort. The ruling United Workers Party (UWP) also held at a public meeting following the protest.
“What was great at the march that we had, and more importantly at the public meeting that we had, is a meeting with the people again, and to hear their commitment and their support for this project moving forward,” Chastanet said at Monday’s briefing.
“So again let me reassure St. Lucians that the United Workers Party and my Cabinet are not deterred, and I think that the evidence of Kenny Anthony and the Labour Party of what they have achieved over the last 20 years is evident for everyone to see. And as I said, in 20 years, not one investment.”
Chastanet also accused Anthony of threatening investors.
“He’s now out of office. The same investors that he met for two years and could not gain the confidence of, the same investors that he could not get them to deliver on the project, he’s now threatening them,” he said.
The opposition along with other detractors argue that the US$2.6 billion Desert Star Holdings Limited (DSH) project that includes the construction of a race course, a free trade zone, a shopping mall complex, marina and other facilities on 700 acres of land in Vieux Fort will destroy the environment in that area.
However the government has consistently argued that it had been alerted “to the many comments, queries, and concerns and expressed views that have been circulating in the media” since the July 29 announcement of the proposed integrated development project.
The Chastanet government said that it welcomes any questions and scrutiny and promises to address concerns that naturally follows from such a potentially transformative project, “which promises to significantly reduce unemployment levels, enhance the tourism, sporting and entertainment product, widen the opportunities for local businesses, and improve the attractiveness of St Lucia as an investment location of choice”.
The government said that the DHS project will result in 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 Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) legislation.
In its statement, the government noted that the proposed DSH project is indeed a significant project, which is anticipated to advance the socio-economic status of the southern part of the island.
At their Vieux Fort Rally, members of the Cabinet argued that the SLP wanted to stop the project at all costs, and if successful, it would result in the lost of its base in the south, where it had traditionally won most of the constituencies.