PRESS RELEASE – The position on the DSH deal articulated and publicized by the Vieux-Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change (VF4Cs) has consistently sought to impress upon the citizens of this country that the proposed DSH Project is not a local issue for Vieux-Fortians. (Moreso, it) is one that has significant economic, financial, social, environmental, developmental, legal and political implications for the entire country.
To encourage awareness of and discussion on the DSH deal, the VF4Cs circulated its concerns on the terms and conditions of the DSH Agreements to a number of national organizations and important national offices, including the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Parliamentary Representative of Vieux-Fort South.
The concerns highlighted included the risks and obligations of the State, absence of opportunities for equity and profit-sharing by the State, lack of employment guarantees for nationals and the approximate 900 acres of land that would be sold or leased to the developer for 99 years at US$1 per acre per year. In addition, the VF4Cs requested the opportunity to present its position in greater detail to these organizations and offices.
To date, only the Leader of the Opposition and the Parliamentary Representative of Vieux-Fort South have provided a response among the 15 organizations and national offices written to. Admittedly, the Prime Minister has responded, not to the VF4Cs’ letter referred to above, but to the petition circulated by the VF4Cs that attracted over 3,000 signatures from St. Lucia and many other countries. Unfortunately, in the P.M.’s response, the critical matter of addressing the concerns raised in the petition, including the call for face-to-face engagements with the residents of Vieux-Fort, was simply ignored.
While representatives of the national organizations have remained mum on the DSH deal, the head of the local Roman Catholic Church has courageously spoken out on this matter. The purpose in so doing was not to destroy the DSH concept, but to plead for a better deal to be negotiated on behalf of the residents of Vieux-Fort and all other citizens of St. Lucia.
We roundly applaud the Catholic Church because this is yet another instance in which it stands on the right side of history. It has stood up, along with the VF4Cs, to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. By doing so, the Catholic Church has not only expressed solidarity with the citizens of St. Lucia, but has demonstrated a sound moral imperative.
Other national organizations should be encouraged by this action of the Catholic Church. Work on the race track is in progress and the Prime Minister has said publicly that the “Developer” will be refunded the money spent on this facility using CIP funds, but the venture will not be profitable one. This is a preposterous statement from a Prime Minister who wants to run St. Lucia like a business. Furthermore, for this Phase 1 of the DSH Project, the VF4Cs is not aware that the relevant EIAs have been conducted and the appropriate approvals received from the Development Control Authority (DCA).
National organizations ought to be calling for a clear picture of the DSH Project under consideration to be shared with the nation and a clear and unequivocal statement on how St. Lucia is going to benefit from its implementation. It is about time that more of those who lead and influence the conscience of this nation break their silence and ignite a wave of national debate on the Prime Minister’s much-vaunted DSH Project. They must ensure that the genuine and legitimate concerns of the citizens of this country regarding the DSH deal are not constantly ignored by the Prime Minister. -VFSCs