Statement by Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony

Statement by Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony

Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition

and

Political Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party

To A Press Conference

on

Friday, September 04, 2009

 

 

DECEPTIONS WILL NOT SAVE FREDERICK

 

On Tuesday, September 01, Mr. Richard Frederick, Minister of Physical Development and Housing held a Press Conference to reply to certain statements which I made at a Public Meeting of the Saint Lucia Labour Party on August 27, 2009.  He said that he would ‘bring to light’ the truth.

2.     At the so-called Press Conference, Mr. Frederick simply read a prepared statement but refused to take questions from the Press.  This is not the first time that he has called a Press Conference and denied the Press the opportunity to question him on his pronouncements. 

 

3.     No amount of half truths, colourable devices and innuendos coming from Mr. Frederick will explain away the simple fact that he applied for concessions from his own Cabinet for villas which he had sold.

 

4.     Mr. Frederick claims he paid E.C. $72,000.00 “in duties for the imported furniture”.  If indeed he paid such duties, why then, as late as June 18, 2009, he is applying for concessions on the very same items he allegedly paid duties to Customs?

 

5.     It is incontrovertible that Mr. Richard Frederick, Minister of Physical Development and Housing applied for concessions for four villas at Marigot, when two of those villas were no longer in his ownership and had been sold.

 

6.        These are the facts:

        (1)    By Cabinet Conclusion, No. 54 of 2005,  and dated January 24, 2005 the former SLP Cabinet granted him duty free concessions under the Cricket World Cup (Accommodation) Incentive Act.

 

(2)            By Cabinet Conclusion No. 299 of 2006, dated April 10, 2006, the former SLP Cabinet extended the waiver of import duty and consumption tax on building materials as well as “furniture, fittings and fixtures” to May 31, 2007.

 

(3)            On June 14, 2007, the UWP Cabinet, by Conclusion No. 457 of 2007 extended the concessionary period for approved Cricket World Cup Accommodation Projects.  This included the villas owned or formally owned by Richard Frederick.

 

7.                On June 18, 2009, Richard Frederick wrote to the Minister of Tourism applying for concessions for the four villas.  This is what he wrote:

 

CONCESSIONS ON FURNITURE

 

‘Cabinet in 2005/2006 granted me concessions for the construction of four (4) villas in Marigot Bay, Castries.

 

The period for which the concessions were granted has elapsed.

 

At this point however, I do have a number of pieces of furniture which were imported for the villas.  Due to oversight on my part, I never realized that the period had elapsed.

 

I am therefore craving your indulgence in assisting me in securing concessions for the attached list of items on furniture, earmarked for the villas in Marigot Bay. 

 

Whilst this list is not the total requirement, you may wish to grant me a certain period for total importation.

 

Grateful for your kind assistance.’

 

Amazingly, Richard Frederick claims that he did not know that the concessions had elapsed when he was the second person to receive concessions under the World Cup programme.

 

8.     On the SAME day, on June 18, 2009, Cabinet, by Conclusion No. 644 of 2009, granted Richard Frederick under the Tourism Incentives Act, 100% waiver of Import Duty and Consumption Tax on furniture (inclusive of television sets) for the furnishing and equipping of four (4) villas at Marigot Bay. No one, it seemed bothered to check the facts. In any event, the villas were disqualified from receiving concessions because none of the villas had six rooms as required by the Act.

 

9.        Then, on July 17, 2009, a full month later, Cabinet, by Conclusion Number 774 (b) of 2009, amended its previous decision to provide the concessions for (1) villa.

 

        Why the decision?  By that date, officials of the Ministry of Tourism had discovered that of the four (4) villas which Richard Frederick had secured duty free concessions, two (2) had in fact been sold.

 

10.        Faced now with the decision in the Tuxedo Villas case, Cabinet, on August 06, 2009, by Conclusion No. 870 (g) hurriedly revoked Conclusion Nos. 644 of 2009 and 774 (b) of 2009.

 

11.    Every document to which I have referred to in this statement is attached for ease of reference.

 

12.    The irresistible and compelling conclusions are as follows: (a) Mr. Frederick attempted to secure concessions for three (3) villas which had already been sold; (b) his Cabinet Colleagues were initially persuaded to agree to his scheme; (c) Senator Allen Chastanet knowingly participated in the efforts to assist Mr. Frederick to secure concessions; and (d) Mr. Frederick attempted to use his office for personal gain and benefit.

 

 

ATTACK ON RAMJATTAN

 

13.    In his statement, Richard Frederick singles out two private individuals, both of whom are well know businessmen and investors.  He attacked Mr. Ronald Ramjattan, owner of Baron Foods, and Mr. Craig Barnard, one of the owners of Le Sport  and Rendezuous Hotels, among other properties.

 

14.    This is not the first time that Richard Frederick has viciously attacked business persons in Saint Lucia.  Last year, he singled out the owners of True Value, a company in Vieux Fort for special treatment, and accused them of inappropriately receiving concessions on building materials. In typical style, it was another untruth. He stopped only when he was threatened with legal action. On every occasion, he has attacked these individuals because of a perceived relationship or association with me.

 

15.    The attack on Mr. Ronald Ramjattan reeks of spite and vengeance. Mr. Ramjattan received concessions which were no different to those granted to many other persons and investors under the World Cup Programme.

 

16.    Mr. Ramjattan, like other applicants, was granted concessions on April 10, 2006 under the Cricket World Cup (Accommodation) Incentive Act.  The Saint Lucia Labour Party was voted out of office on December 11, 2006, eight months later.  Surely, if Mr. Ramjattan used his concessions for the wrong purposes, then it was the duty of the Minister of Tourism to take the appropriate action against him.

 

17.    Like a typical little boy who has been spurned, Richard Frederick seeks to question my presence at Mr. Ramjattan’s “housewarming”.  Mr. Frederick is really very petty.  The function was attended by his Prime Minister, Hon. Stephenson King as well as Senator Guy Myers, the Minister of National Security.  Was their presence also the reward for being close to Mr. Ramjattan?

 

18.    Not satisfied, he then attacks Craig Barnard and his family, owner of Le Sport and Rendezvous hotels, over the sale of their shares in Jalousie. Mr. Craig Barnard is one of the successful local hoteliers in Saint Lucia, well established in business long before the SLP came into office. Frederick implies that they benefitted from the purchase and sale of shares in Jalousie because they are relations of mine, no matter how distant.  Mr. Richard Frederick knows full well that the Government of Saint Lucia was advised by its two directors on the Jalousie Board, Mr. John Joseph, former NIC Chairman and now manager of WASCO, and Mr. Trevor Brathwaite former Comptroller of Inland Revenue and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance.  Yet, he persists in the untruth that those shares were sold below value at the time of the sale.

 

19.        Politicians who attack defenceless people to score cheap political points and to hide their own bad behaviour, are cowards.

 

 

THE UNEC ISSUE

 

20.        Richard Frederick is now firing his last shots.  This time he invents another issue over UNEC.

 

21.        Richard Frederick keeps referring to an energy agreement by the SLP administration which is supposedly blocking his government from pursuing a renewable energy option for St. Lucia.

 

22.    The letter which Richard Frederick wrote to me was clearly not intended for reply. It reeked of venom and malice. The letter was crass and just plain stupid. It was nothing but a cheap political ploy. It did not deserve a reply.         In typical style he takes a simple, innocuous issue and presents it as an act of SLP corruption or mismanagement.  He repeats it as often as possible, as loudly and aggressively as only he can.

 

23.With respect to the renewable energy issue, here are the facts:

 

        (1)The SLP administration entered into an agreement with UNEC, a Canadian firm with expertise and interest in the exploration of renewable energy in St. Lucia and Dominica.  This was announced publicly in the Budget Address of 2004/05. This is what I said then:

       

        “Mr. Speaker, in July 2003, consistent with that recommendation, the Office of Private Sector Relations (OPSR) opened dialogue with an energy investment company to explore and develop Saint Lucia’s geothermal resources.

 

        These discussions have progressed to an advanced stage. As of March 2004, a Memorandum of Understanding had been drafted and approved by the Ministry of Physical Development and the Attorney-General’s Office.

 

        The MOU between the Government of Saint Lucia and the geothermal exploration company (UNEC) anticipates and initial investment of US$10 million by UNEC for initial exploration and development of the Geothermal Resource Area. This amount is to be deployed during the first three years of the project. The company has an initial 18-month period during which to mobilize. Should it fail to fulfil its contractual obligations under the MOU, all rights revert to the Government of Saint Lucia.”[1]

 

(2)        Following the signing of the MOU there were protracted negotiations with LUCELEC on the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), with UNEC insisting on a guaranteed minimum price for the power.  Considering the fluctuating price of fuel on the world market relative to the displaced cost of diesel by renewable, LUCELEC understandably, was hesitant to give any such guarantee.

 

(3)        Meanwhile it is now two and half years since the people of St. Lucia replaced the SLP with the UWP, with the expectation that they would right the SLP’s wrongs, real or imagined.  The SLP cannot believe that Minister Frederick is unable to secure the help of his learned Attorney General to examine and resolve any legal issues surrounding a simple MOU, especially given that the government of Dominica which entered into an identical agreement with UNEC at about the same time as the GOSL has since January 2007, issued, not ONE but TWO licences for the exploration of its geothermal potential. How can there be an issue with UNEC when neither UNEC or the Government of Saint Lucia has respected their legal obligations under the MOU?

 

(4)            One of the companies, West Indies Power (Ltd.), with the same technical support offered by international agencies, such as the OAS under the Global Sustainable Islands Initiative (GSEII) involving Nevis, Dominica and St. Lucia, is now aggressively drilling in Nevis; with plans for Dominica in an advanced stage.

 

(5)            It is our understanding that in early 2007, West Indies Power (Ltd.), met with then Minister of Economic Development, Ausbert D’Auvergne.  Since his forced departure from the government, the company, (WIP Ltd.) has been trying through all possible means for over a year to, (a) arrange a meeting with Prime Minister King, and (b) undertake a site visit to their operations in Nevis, without success.

 

(6)            Meanwhile Minister Frederick has been attending numerous regional and international meetings on renewable energy.  He routinely picks-up his perdiem and ticket, attends the opening ceremony, disappears to his room and returns in deathly silence.  The last such meeting was in the company of CARICOM colleague ministers of energy in Nevis, July 1st to 3rd.  His aggression and bravado is only for domestic consumption. He has not uttered a word in support of St. Lucia’s renewable energy development at these meetings.

 

(7)            We have heard him in the last three budgets and subsequent news conferences.  What has Minister Frederick proposed and/ or achieved in this important area of renewable energy? NOTHING!!!

 

(8)            Meanwhile in order to hide his deficiencies and total lack of achievement in any of his portfolios, the minister continues with his bluster, bluff, name-calling, bravado and lies.

 

24.                       This energy fiasco typifies the operations of the King administration in all spheres; each man is a king unto himself. As is the case with the Point Seraphine “deal”, ministers Joseph and Chastnet appear on TV speaking from their SLASPA perspective; whilst Minister Bousquet is cooking-up another deal using his NDC mandate; and all the while, PM King is out there with his fired adviser in New York closing yet another deal for the same Point Seraphine.  Every man wants a piece of the action!!!

 

 

RSM AGREEMENT

 

25.                       For some time now, Richard Frederick has been attempting to excite the public’s imagination over an Agreement between the former SLP Administration and RSM, an exploration company, to determine the potential for oil and gas off the Eastern coast of Saint Lucia. I am happy and proud that my Administration led the way in this matter.

 

 

26.                       Many will recall that Richard Frederic accused me of signing an Agreement without the advice of the Attorney-General. It has now been established that Frederick’s statement was yet another fabrication, because it has been proved that the Agreement was vetted by the Commonwealth Secretariat, a body housed in London. The very Agreement he cited indicates that the initial exploration period has ended.

 

27.                       Let me warn the Stephenson King Administration that for the sake of the people of this country, he must end the excesses of Richard Frederick. This individual, more than any other, has been the prime motivator of the Commission of Inquiry, costing the taxpayers over $25 million. Should RSM decide to file a suit against the Government of Saint Lucia, the Government has Richard Frederick to blame because of his outlandish and defamatory statements about the Chief Executive of RSM. Time will tell.

 

What a farce of a Government!

 

 

I am now available for your questions.



[1] BUDGET ADDRESS 2004/05 By The Honourable Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, International Financial Services, Economic Affairs and Information, At the Fourth Session of the Eight Parliament of Saint Lucia. April 20th, 2004,  p. 34. http://www.pm.gov.lc/budgetaddresses/budget_addresses.htm

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