Here’s the Rea­son I Sup­port Vieux-Fort Horse-Rac­ing Ven­ture

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Ge­of­frey De­vaux

The pro­posed horse-rac­ing ven­ture in Vieux Fort gives me great hope for the fu­ture. Gov­ern­ment’s in­ten­tion to lease land at $1.00 an acre for lands that will fa­cil­i­tate the suc­cess of the ven­ture is un­der­stand­able. I be­lieve there may al­ready ex­ist a prece­dent for this in terms of ho­tels oc­cu­py­ing por­tions of land con­sid­ered to be part of the Queen’s Chain - lands close to the sea. I know in Trinidad there are ar­eas of land in St. Ann’s, near Port of Spain, where prop­erty own­ers are liv­ing on land that have 100 year leases and are rented out at pep­per­corn rates. This was done years ago to fa­cil­i­tate and stim­u­late home build­ing, jobs and fam­ily own­er­ship of homes.

That said, I see Gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy with DSH needs to be repli­cated in sev­eral parts of Saint Lu­cia so that per­sons de­sirous of own­ing their home (i.e. first time home own­ers) will now have the pos­si­bil­ity of rent­ing a suit­able lot of land, say 5,000 to 7,000 square feet, for $1.00 a year from Gov­ern­ment for 100 years with an op­tion to re­new for an­other 100 years. This will al­low them to ob­tain a mort­gage/loan from banks to as­sist them in build­ing their home. De­pend­ing on the in­flow of funds from pass­port sales, Gov­ern­ment would also be re­spon­si­ble for putting in the in­fras­truc­ture for th­ese lots; yes a cost but an in­vest­ment that will re­dound to the proper and sus­tained de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try for years to come. So­ci­ety de­pends on func­tional fam­i­lies and hous­ing to help un­der­pin this. With­out this, we will regress in the di­rec­tion of Desert Sands with noth­ing to hold on to.

The sec­ond ben­e­fit I see from this horse-rac­ing ven­ture is re­lated to agri­cul­ture. Saint Lu­cia is at a cross­roads with its agri­cul­ture. For years I have been of the opin­ion that Saint Lu­cia should be­come a 100 per­cent or­ganic-grow­ing coun­try. The ben­e­fits are numer­ous and I think out­weigh the ex­ist­ing prac­tices. To date there is only one coun­try in the world that has set a goal of be­com­ing 100 per­cent or­ganic by the year 2020, and this is Bhutan, a coun­try of sev­eral mil­lion, which bor­ders with Pak­istan.

With the avail­abil­ity of a steady sup­ply of horse ma­nure, I think we could now achieve this goal much eas­ier than if not avail­able. Be­ing 100 per­cent or­ganic would take our agri­cul­tural cul­ture to new and higher lev­els both in prices and nu­tri­tion. There is much that can be elab­o­rated on but I leave that for an­other time. Yes it will take train­ing, a new mind­set and time, say four years (con­sider it a univer­sity de­gree for all farm­ers). This will make us beau­ti­ful again. This will make us unique and an at­trac­tion for all vis­i­tors.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth. “Happy the gen­tle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.”

God bless.

Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­taanet (left, front row) with DSH per­son­nel (seated) and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials pic­tured at last year’s pub­lic an­nounce­ment of the horse-rac­ing project.

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