Ritz-Carl­ton Re­sort: To Be or Not To Be?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - Clau­dia Elei­box

Last Au­gust Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet waxed sen­ti­men­tal about the Ritz-Carl­ton Ho­tel Com­pany, re­veal­ing that his first child was con­ceived at one of its re­sorts. He was speak­ing at a cer­e­mony hosted at Roy­al­ton St. Lu­cia where the gov­ern­ment signed an agree­ment with Range De­vel­op­ments so the lat­ter would be­come the master de­vel­oper of a Ritz-Carl­ton in Black Bay, Vieux Fort.

By April 2018, in his re­but­tal dur­ing the de­bate on the 2018/2019 Bud­get of Ex­pen­di­ture, Chas­tanet was an­nounc­ing “ad­min­is­tra­tive dif­fi­cul­ties” that “put a pause on the Ritz-Carl­ton pro­ject”.

The Black Bay de­vel­op­ment was orig­i­nally ap­proved by the pre­vi­ous Kenny An­thony gov­ern­ment in 2016, as a CIP pro­ject. How­ever, in Jan­uary 2017, the Chas­tanet ad­min­is­tra­tion made changes to CIP, some of which did not go down well with Range De­vel­op­ments.

Chas­tanet ac­knowl­edged dur­ing the bud­get de­bate: “It was no fault of the de­vel­oper what tran­spired. It was all our re­spon­si­bil­ity. I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for it. But I be­lieve we are well on our way to turn­ing this thing around and we will be able to recom­mence the pro­ject.”

How­ever, by June cir­cu­lat­ing re­ports were im­ply­ing that the Saint Lu­cian gov­ern­ment would have to com­pen­sate Range De­vel­op­ments for the money al­ready in­vested in the Ritz-Carl­ton de­vel­op­ment—or face a law­suit. The in­di­ca­tion was that the gov­ern­ment had un­til mid-July to de­cide.

But, as of June 28, 2018, this is what the prime min­is­ter said: “I would say the chances are that Range may not pro­ceed. Within the next 21 days we will know the fi­nal word. But the good news is that we have other devel­op­ers wait­ing in line for the Black Bay pro­ject.”

On Tues­day he told this re­porter: “Noth­ing has re­ally changed. We have been in ne­go­ti­a­tions. The de­vel­oper had in­di­cated to us in writ­ing that he was un­happy with cer­tain el­e­ments of what the gov­ern­ment was sup­posed to do. We’ve been at­tempt­ing to see if we can rec­on­cile our dif­fer­ences. It’s not go­ing well at this point, but we con­tinue to live in hope and we will see what hap­pens. But, as I in­di­cated, the gov­ern­ment will al­ways act in the best in­ter­est of the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia.”

At press-time the prime min­is­ter was un­avail­able for fur­ther com­ment and the CIP depart­ment de­clined to di­vulge any in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the ar­range­ment with Range De­vel­op­ments. But this week Cas­tries South MP, Ernest Hi­laire, re­peated in a news re­port: “The CIP leg­is­la­tion says money that’s brought in via do­na­tion goes to the Na­tional Eco­nomic Fund and par­lia­ment has to ap­prove the use of such money.”

Ac­cord­ing to Hi­laire, this fund is meant pri­mar­ily for so­cial de­vel­op­ment and not to lend in­vestors. He added that the gov­ern­ment loaned money from the Na­tional Eco­nomic Fund at 2% in­ter­est with­out par­lia­men­tary ap­proval.

“We told the prime min­is­ter it was il­le­gal, what he was do­ing. He had to change the law or he had to come to par­lia­ment to get ap­proval to use the CIP monies in that way.”

The Ritz-Carl­ton re­sort that was sched­uled to be­gin op­er­a­tions in 2021 at Black Bay was ex­pected to house180 rooms over 180 acres. The devel­op­ers boasted there would be 500 jobs dur­ing con­struc­tion and a sim­i­lar num­ber once op­er­a­tional.

On Tues­day Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet still had no de­fin­i­tive word on the fu­ture of the pro­posed Range De­vel­op­ments.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.