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No Mystery In Vieux Fort Project – Gov’t, Invest St. Lucia Clarify Areas of Doubt

Image of Mc Hale Andrew, CEO of Invest St. Lucia
Image of Mc Hale Andrew, CEO of Invest St. Lucia
Mc Hale Andrew, CEO of Invest St. Lucia

THE Government of St. Lucia and Invest St. Lucia, the country’s premier investment agency, yesterday attempted to clarify several issues related to the US$2.6 billion investment project for the south of the island, as concerns continue to be expressed by citizens about several aspects of the project.

The project, the framework agreement of which was signed 11 days ago between Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Teo Ah King, Chairman of Desert Star Holdings (DSH) Ltd, has become a talking point in the country.

The opposition St. Lucia Labour Party, whose administration first started talks with DSH in March 2015, had indicated that while it had agreed on most of the fundamental points of the agreement with the developer, there were some critical elements which required national consultation, even parliamentary debate and approval.

The present government’s signing of the agreement less than two months up on entering office appeared to the Opposition to be a hasty move which has spurred debate on talk shows and social media platforms as people query what some called the ‘fast tracking’ of the project.

But Mc Hale Andrew, CEO of Invest St. Lucia, sees nothing abstruse about last month’s signing of the framework agreement between the Government of St. Lucia and DSH Ltd. As far as he is concerned it was the Government of St. Lucia that initiated negotiations with DSH and it was the same Government of St. Lucia that signed the framework agreement.

“What has happened is that one administration succeeds another. It is not one government against the other. It’s the Government of St. Lucia. As far as the investor is concerned, there is only one Government of St. Lucia. Concerns have been negotiated successfully, the developer is satisfied and the government is satisfied….,” Andrew said.

Image of Bradley Felix, Minister for Investment
Bradley Felix, Minister for Investment

Bradley Felix, the Investment Minister, also attempted to show that what many people thought was a speedy signing of the project’s framework of agreement had nothing mysterious about it. He said that under the previous administration the agreement was “largely negotiated” through the efforts of the Citizenship by Investment Board and Invest St. Lucia and that only two provisions of the agreement needed to be worked on.

“Needless to say, through the continued efforts of these two state institutions, the two doubtful clauses have recently been negotiated out of the final agreement,” he said.

But neither the Government of St. Lucia nor Invest St. Lucia could talk freely about the every aspect of the project, especially the provisions within the framework agreement. The latter’s legal counsel, SeryozhaCenac ,explained that the parties to the agreement are governed by the terms and conditions of the agreement and questions about what it contains cannot be divulged promptly.

Felix noted that the agreement, in general terms, is a commitment on the part of the Government of St. Lucia to provide the policy, regulatory and administrative framework within which the project could be implemented.

“Nothing in the agreement purports to guarantee the investor any licences, approvals or other concessions without due process. Indeed, every undertaking in the agreement is limited to the requirements of the relevant legislation,” he said.

Andrew, said that the company, DSH, is in the process of applying for citizenship by investment approval status, which, according to the legislation that governs the CIP such an approval must first get DCA (Development Control Authority) approval in principle.

DSH had applied for DCA approval a few months ago but had to resubmit its application since the Master Agreement came out.

The CIP Board of Directors cannot approve DSH application/s for citizenship status at present because CIP legislation presently does not, facilitate the type of investment DSH is proposing and has signed on to. Amendments have to be made to the legislation to facilitate the tourism/real estate/equestrian type of development proposed.

The question of how many passports would St. Lucia will issue to DSH on account of the size of its investment in the questions unanswered. Andrew explained that the investment agency is not the one issuing passports but noted that there are certain conditions that must be met before a passport is handed over to a developer.

According to Andrew, no one can say at this stage how many passports can be issued to DSH. He noted that the project has a 10 – 15 implementation window that envisages about 11 different phases which would mean that different investors would be coming in at different stages.

“No one can tell you how many passports until the applications are sent to the CIP,” he said.

Andrew added that the project is not attached to a government sovereign guarantee, which is an undertaking by the Government of St. Lucia to indemnify an investor from a commercial risk or give it a guarantee that should the project fail the government would indemnify the investor.

“That is not in the framework of agreement,” Andrew said.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

6 Comments

  1. ?

    Did this La Poe fella Andrew, say, “no one can say how many passports….”

    Garcion, paley pous kow TOOSEL /speak for your dumb self ALONE. I already told you that the amount of passports needed to be sold by DSH Teo Ah Khing will exceed FIVE-THOUSAND and beginning to reach TEN THOUSAND IN A COUPLE OF YEARS.

    Tell that crap to these cool aid drinking Negroes like the New Yorker from Liese Land, and the Rickets John Wayne and Tantoe Black Pete. Allow me have the Chastanet Crime Family tell you how many Passports:

    https://www.facebook.com/284538805083530/videos/521396544731087/

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    .

    1. You moved from Monkey town to COOBARIL in one term in office. Go sit down! You are given maths lessons for the rest of your life! Go sit down with you almost semi-gorgeous wife!

  2. The problem with the St. Lucian public is that they do not read. No portion of the citizen by investment aspect of this has been agreed to. The company still had to apply for the status and it does not seem to have received it yet. 2.1 Billion. Thats some serious investment. Thats some serious employment opportunity and the spill over to everyone from the wholesalers, to the electricity company, general suppliers, fishermen, farmers, school leavers, the general vieux fort community is immense. I dont get Citizen by Investment. It makes no sense. Why cant the investors just go the old route of applying to have a business in St. Lucia, along with the normal concessions? What extra does one get with the CIT? If I was Chastanet, I would rescind the deal….Oh no! If I was chastanet Id push this deal. Moosah and kenny seats are in obvious trouble. This single project can guarantee Chastenet 15 years in office easily. You stupid labour party supporters dont get it! The Chastanets dont play to loose. Their only focus is winning. And in this case its clear that he wants to out perform Kenny’s last term. That should be pretty easy, but Chastanet is taking no chances.

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