CASTRIES, St Lucia — As part of what has been described as the “liquidation of the nation”, Sandals Resorts International (SRI) could end up owning nine or ten properties in Saint Lucia.
SRI currently has five properties in Saint Lucia: Sandals Halcyon, Sandals Grande, Sandals Regency La Toc, Sandals LeSuis – the Over-the-Water Bungalows, Sandals Golf Course. If it gets the proposed Dolphin Park, that will make six.
According to local sources, about five days after the 2016 election, incoming Prime Minister Allen Chastanet gave SRI the five acres of land that his predecessor Dr Kenny Anthony and former minister of tourism Philip Pierre secured for redevelopment between the Landingsand Gros Islet.
Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart and/or his son is supposed to be acquiring and was introduced two weeks ago as the majority shareholder at Ladera.
That would be the seventh Sandals resort.
“And then right now, it’s up in the air as to whether Butch is going to buy Tikaye, which is up for sale and he’s been meeting with them up to last week. So, you could have eight to nine properties in the name of Sandals.
“So, the question then becomes, there’ll be more Sandals Properties if Chastanet – well I heard they didn’t get St James Club or Almond Morgan Bay or whatever. But if goes through the way it’s been going, Butch Stewart could own more properties in Saint Lucia, which he already does, than in Jamaica and could end-up, owning nine to ten properties in Saint Lucia before this year is out.
“And that, sir, is what you call the liquidation of the nation; pure corporate dominance, which secures Allen Chastanet, no matter whether he loses or wins the elections and he would most probably win, because by then he’ll have even more money to run elections.
“So the north of the island goes to Jamaica, the south of the island goes to Malaysia and the middle of the island gets menial labor support contracted through Guy Joseph and basic infrastructure. That’s what’s happening in Saint Lucia. And all the legal work gets done by Nicholas John and Mark Maragh,” Caribbean News Now was told.
The relationship between Saint Lucia and SRI, and by extension between Chastanet and Stewart, has become a political issue on the island.
During a recent public demonstration, some protesters called on Stewart to pay a disputed tax assessment of $24.4 million dating back to 2001, including interest and penalties, which the government later agreed to write off.
Following the government’s withdrawal of the $24 million tax assessment, some social media comments described Chastanet as Stewart’s “puppet”.
Others said, “Our not so bright PM gave him back $24 million” … “All we got here is an idiot” … “Since he’s able to get his way with Chastanet, he feels he can treat the others likewise.”
Another simmering issue in Saint Lucia that the government and Sandals have both been trying to obfuscate is a demand by Sandals to import 85 so-called limousines duty- and tax-free, a similar demand for which was rejected by Antigua and Barbuda because Sandals refused to include local stakeholders in the purchase and operation of the vehicles.
This article is courtesy of www.caribbeannewsnow.com.