Former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony is threatening to take legal action to force the St. Lucia government to re-negotiate a multi-billion dollar investment that critics claim poses serious environmental concerns and would also drive many farmers and small businesses into bankruptcy.
The Allen Chastanet government has in the past defended the US$2.6 billion “Pearl of the Caribbean” project as “one of the most adventurous and ambitious projects in the Caribbean.
The project, which entails a horse racing track, high-end hotel and residences, a casino, free trade zone, an equine diseases free zone, and a marina, is being undertaken by the Hong Kong-based Desert Star Holdings (DSH), and the government said it is poised to make St. Lucia “an even more unique destination and create economic activity as never before seen in the south of the island”.
But Anthony, who until June 2016 headed the government here, said he is prepared to proceed with legal action against the DSH project.
“There are a number of individuals and groups who have issues with the DSH programme. I mean there are farmers for example who are seriously affected,
“There are NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in the community who have fought repeatedly against the DSH and questioned the very basis for DSH. We will see how that goes, what I can say is this legal action is not only just going to be premised on environmental issues…certainly it will have to be supported by testimonies from other persons in the community,” said Anthony, who is also an attorney.
“I suspect there will be affidavits drawn from various individuals and community organisations,” Anthony said, adding that he was prepared for the legal battle given the “many examples where ordinary people have triumphed in circumstances similar to the situation we face here.
Anthony told television viewers that ‘the good thing is this, the law has moved tremendously over the last couple years (and) there have been some fascinating decisions coming out of Belize for example where the courts have refined their approach in terms of what is in the public interest and what is not in the public interest “
During his contribution to the budget debate earlier this month, Anthony told legislators that within the next few weeks he would be moving to the courts to “secure appropriate declarations” insisting that he had a duty to protect his constituents.
“I maintain that the agreements…are outrageous, breached the financial laws of St. Lucia and are contrary to the public interest,” he told legislators.