THE ART OF WAR OR JUST PLAIN DUPLICITY?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Do­minic Fedee

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.

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