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ST. LUCIA | Opposition party wants questions answered regarding multi-billion dollar project

Opposition legislator, Dr. Ernest Hilaire Opposition legislator, Dr. Ernest Hilaire
CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Aug 4, CMC – The main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) says it is still awaiting answers to several questions posed to the St. Lucia government regarding the multi-billion dollar project with the Hong Kong-based Desert Star Holdings (DSH).

Opposition legislator, Dr. Ernest Hilaire told a news conference that the party had staged a public protest march in May against the project, it has heard nothing from the Allen Chastanet administration regarding the US$2.6 billion project that the government said would result in a mixed-use real estate development enterprise involving, inter-alia, entertainment and sporting facilities, as a third category under the real estate provisions of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).

Ernest Hilaire

The government has said that it would also encompass a project that meets the basic stipulation but entails: a horse racing track, high-end hotel and residences, a casino, free trade zone, an equine diseases free zone, and a marina.

It said the proposed DSH project would advance the advance the socio-economic status of the southern part of the island.

But the SLP, which has voiced its disapproval to the project, said it is not able to get “responses to some of the basic questions which were asked” including “how much money is DSH bringing for the commencement of phase 1” and whether there has been “any changes to the Framework Agreements signed with DSH particularly in regard to the buy-back clause, the escrow account, the exclusivity arrangements, the sale of Sandy Beach and the Stadium, and the leasing of land at US$1 per acre?”

During the news conference Hilaire said he wanted to share two documents that would allow journalists to share their “own opinion” as to whether the CIP Unit and Invest Saint Lucia had done assessments and rejected the DSH application.

“Both documents show that the professional staff at the CIP Unit and Invest Saint Lucia did not agree that the DSH submission rejected the submission should be approved,” he said.

He said in one of the documents the CIP regulations provide for some measure of CIP financing and equity financing.

“It is noted in the document that the CIP regulations provides for some measure of CIP financing and equity financing and that in submissions, almost 90 per cent is CIP, the balance is equity put in by the developer of which most is in the form of his professional fees. In the submission for phase 1, the gross development cost is US $340 million,” Hilaire said.

He said also that while the developer has spoken of a substantial amount of people being employed on the projects, “the developer has not provided any details of the operational aspect of the project in which the employment figures are based”.

Hilaire said that the SLP was also seeking answers regarding the status of the chief executive officer of the CIP, who was “sent on administrative leave.

“It’s been a few weeks since that was done and we’ve heard nothing about the status of this individual, whether the individual is still being investigated, for what? Has the individual been terminated? We have no idea and I think it is that minister with responsibility the CIP clearly indicates to St. Lucia, what was the issue the CIP CEO and why was she sent on administrative leave.

“St. Lucians need to know the status of DSH and in particular has the developer commence selling our passports even before the project has started,” he added.

  • Countries: St_Lucia

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