COULD the members of the opposition, Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) be suffering from a case of sour grapes? According to Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, their opposition for the sake of opposing suggests that they are.
Chastanet sat down with talk show hosts Francheska “Franny” Solomon and Kendell “Scady” Eugene for a candid interview on Blazin FM’s Morning Heat yesterday morning for a no-holds-barred discussion.
Chastanet spoke on a number of topics, including the controversial ‘Pearl of the Caribbean’ project and responded to calls from the public, causing the programme which usually ends at 10:00 a.m. to run overtime by 35 minutes.
Early in the interview, Chastanet addressed the SLP’s decision to organise protests and rallies in opposition to the conditions of some of the Government’s planned ventures.
Chastanet said he has always been open and willing to dialogue with anyone who is objectively opposed to the government’s plans and projects, that is, of course, after they have taken due diligence to do the proper research and have the facts about what they are opposing. However, he said in the case of the SLP, they are opposing simply out of spite because his administration is doing the job that the opposition failed to do while in power.
He said: “Unfortunately, a lot of the opposition we are hearing is actually the opposition. It is actually the Labour Party that for whatever reason wants to try to stop the developments from taking place. The sad reality is that the Labour Party had every opportunity to deliver to the people of St. Lucia, particularly when we look at the south.
He continued: “In Dr. Anthony’s tenure as Prime Minister for 15 years and District Representative for 20 years, there isn’t one project that he brought to the south. In fact, one can go to the extreme and show that in fact when he was in government, he did everything to stop things from happening.”
The PM went on to give examples, saying: “So when we left government, we’d introduced the $35 (airport) tax which had already been introduced…85-90% of the people paying the tax were tourists. There was almost $50 million already in the kitty and he took off the tax, and after five years, didn’t do the airport. You then have St. Jude, that according to their own report, was almost 85% completed. Yet, they decided to make it a bigger hospital, spent $118 million. Meanwhile, the hospital is still not opened in the south, and we’re still using the centre. The list goes on and on.”
With reference to the Desert Star Holdings Project, Chastanet said that while the opposition was crying out that the project is offering too much land and that they are giving away too many concessions, they are failing to mention that they were in the process of securing a deal with a British billionaire where they were prepared to offer over 1,000 acres of land.
As for the Citizenship by Investment Programme, Chastanet said: “I didn’t invent the rules for the CIP! We inherited the CIP. As much as the Labour Party does not want to admit it now, they’re the ones who introduced the CIP. They’re the ones who wrote the laws, and they’re the ones who passed the regulations. The regulations were amended, but the only thing that was amended in the regulations was the price, but all the other things in the regulations have remained the same.”
The current rate for St. Lucian citizenship via investment in the CIP is US$100,000 per single applicant, US$165,000 per main applicant with spouse, US$190,000 per family with up to 3 dependents (spouse + 2 children), and US$25,000 per each additional dependent.