THE ART OF WAR OR JUST PLAIN DUPLICITY?
It has become necessary for me to express my deepest concern over activities threatening to undermine the confidence of the local tourism investment climate. A number of these initiatives can be traced to the opposition St. Lucia Labour Party which seeks to justify its ever-changing positions on various projects for partisan purpose. Without investment, it is extremely difficult to grow the economy, create jobs, pay for our schools and create opportunity for our people; hence my decision to make this matter one of national priority. Narrow political positions by the opposition do not only threaten investor confidence but also confuse the local populace.
The opposition’s evershifting opinions on a range of issues facing our country are clearly highlighted in letters reproduced in the STAR of October 20 and demand an explanation from the former prime minister and current MP for Vieux Fort South, who has been speaking negatively about the proposed DSH project and its developer—but only since July 2016. In his letters that appeared in the earlier-mentioned STAR edition, Dr. Kenny Anthony comes across as totally committed to the developer Teo Ah Khing and his proposed project, which the then prime minister envisaged as ‘a flagship resort’ that would be wonderful for Saint Lucia. To quote directly from one of the letters: “Teo, rest assured that I possess an even greater desire to see this project become a reality for so many reasons. I will push to the limit. I ask that you consider my thoughts which I have shared above. Let us find solutions and make this a flag-bearer for a sustainable integrated resort development in the world.”
The letter goes on to quote the former prime minister explaining that it would be political suicide for him to seek a parliamentary waiver of sovereign immunity in an election year. He adds: “It will really help me to understand what is the interest you seek to achieve so I may consider other ways in which we can assist to achieve the same objective.” From reading his letters as published in the newspaper, the message one gets is that less than a month prior to the June 6, 2016 elections, as prime minister Kenny Anthony was a committed supporter of the DSH project and its CEO Teo Ah Khing. The newspaper also cited an email from the prime minister, dated April 22 and copied to what appears to be his private email addresss. It reads: “Dear Teo, It was good to hear from you! I continue to admire your commitment and passion for this investment. I understand that your proposal is on the way to cabinet for consideration.”
The above suggests that had his party won the 2016 elections he would have moved hell and high water to establish the DSH project that since July 2016 he has been most unfairly attacking if emerged victorious at the polls for the 2016 elections. This posture of doublestandards and duplicity appears to be inspired by a quest to score political points at all cost. However, it significantly undermines St. Lucia’s reputation as an investment jurisdiction. Several projects and policy decisions continue to feel the wrath of opposition deception, ranging from the following: the previous administration’s decision to grant approval for the development of a dolphin park at Anse Jabet, while in government, then pivots to being against dolphin parks while in opposition; a decision to implement the Airport Development Tax to allow for the Hewanorra Airport Development Project but deviates from it once they assume the benches of opposition; a report by the Financial Times which rated St. Lucia’s CIP program as high political risk because of statements made by the opposition that upon reassuming office they would revoke citizenships granted under the reformed CIP regime approved by a democratically elected parliament.
It has been 12 days since the STAR article was published and the silence of the normally vocal MP for Vieux Fort South is deafening.
Tourism minister Dominic Fedee. He issued the accompanying statement at a press meeting on Thursday.