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Monday, December 19, 2016


“If you think Allen was joking when pillars were put on the Sandals Beach or the lease of our Queen’s chain in Soufriere, then think again! As his power has “magnified”, so has his intentions been made clearer! Now he is giving away a massive 840 acres of our patrimony to a Chinese investor at a dollar an acre! Tell me . . . Should Allen continue as PM of this country for the 5 years, what will happen to St. Lucia?”

If you didn’t understand why the former government didn’t sign up the multi-billion DSH “Pearl of The Caribbean” project, then perhaps you should wait and listen to the Pre-Christmas House debate on Tuesday December 20 when we expect major hitherto unknown disclosures to be made by both sides of the House.

If all goes according to plan (and DSH is indeed on the order paper), then VF’s death certificate may well be officially “signed, sealed and delivered” in the parliament of St. Lucia 5 days before Xmas. The strange paradox of that potential outcome is: (should this happen) while we will usher in the birth of a new DSH “Christ child”, we will simultaneously be signing the official death certificate of the Southern town. This will perhaps make Christmas 2016 both the “happiest” and the “saddest” ever in the land depending on where you stand.

The good news is that the people of VF including the Catholic Church and some members of the business community are waking up to the reality of what many St. Lucians perceive to be an impending nightmare; but the fundamental question is: will that semblance of resistance be sufficient to change anything? The story may be told 5 days before Christmas 2016!

According the site/master plan and conceptual designs, it’s not just the immediate Beausejour precinct (measuring 400 acres) that is under threat; but the entire “land mass” measuring 840 acres from the foot of the Moule-a-Chique sweeping Sandy Beach, the Il Pirata area, some of the airport territory and extending way into the Eau Piquant and Pierrot Hills.  It will encompass the water table and the related ecosystem!

Whilst the perceptions of the economic implications are understandably “ambivalent”, the potential environmental impact is categorically frightening - and this is what alarms me! Consequently, I would expect the exercise of much transparency. Hence, I look forward to the tabling of both the economic analysis (EA) and the social and environmental impact assessments (EISA) in the House. I would also expect a long-term cost-benefit analysis to have been conducted based on the EA and ESIA - and to make a scientific decision about the project based on those.

If they have not done so, then I would advise government/parliament to “outsource” the above functions and responsibilities to an independent multi-disciplinary extra-parliamentary panel comprising scientists, environmentalists, engineers, economists, consultants, sociologists, investors, educators, NGOs, residents, beach users, the business community, SLASPA etc and all the stakeholder agencies. They would also among other things have the responsibility for putting together the terms of reference.

Parliament would determine the time frame for the completion of the exercise and when the report would be presented.

This thorough “technical approach” is necessary because of the complex nature of technical issues involved which include the sale of patrimony and the purported sale of thousands of passports to fund DSH; the potentially huge environmental and social impact, and generally, the far-reaching implications of project (like quashing the beach and small businesses), among other things.

If we are going to sign off on the DSH deal, then we must ensure that we dot all “Is“ and cross all the ”Ts”. We understand that when governments are desperate, they would grab at any vote-catching straw. Those of us who are old enough I’m sure will remember the promise of a refinery by Hess Oils but we only got an oil terminal; and although there's a some parallelism with the Hess Oil refinery, there is no comparison between the two projects.

In its current form, it is perceived that the DSH agreements (especially the supplemental version) threatens to kill VF; and if VF dies, then the entire south ranging from Soufriere to Dennery is likely to die with it.

Therefore, during the Tuesday sitting, I recommend that members of the House to display a sublime level of independent thinking, courage, “statesmanship” and “patriotism” when voting on the DSH bill. I would urge them to speak on the issue in their capacity as Members of the House – not as Members of Cabinet or Ministers! If our PM and his MIMOC have genuflected before the Chinese, then we don't expect the rest of the UWP parliamentarians to do the same.  The three strong UWP parliamentarians (Dr Rigobert, Mr King and Montoute) must recognize the immense collective power they can wield? They can tip the balance and cause Mr Chastanet to return to rationality without causing the government to self-destruct. I expect them to consider that option in the national interest.

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