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Troy Prince in an Oct. 1, 2022 photo.
Troy Prince in an Oct. 1, 2022 photo.
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By Troy Prince,

Concerned Vincentian

“This resort is a dream more than two decades in the making — from the moment we laid eyes on Vincy, as the locals lovingly call her, and felt this sense of magic and wonder and awe so palpable you could almost touch it.” — Adam Stewart, executive chairman of Sandals Resorts International.

Universally, citizens of SVG and foreigners would strongly agree with the words above that were uttered by the “big man” for Sandals Resorts International. SVG is really the “Gem of the Antilles” and home to some of the warmest of people. However, the ugly face of such a wonderful island being a playground for the rich and wealthy continues to haunt the locals. The cases of foreigners being offered the “honey and milk” of SVG, and the locals picking up the crumbs are far too many.

Some of the most recent cases include:

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Firstly, the orgasmic pleasure that St. Lucian businessman, Rayneau Gajadhar, enjoyed once he brokered a deal with the government to lease 58.8 acres of prime agricultural lands in Richmond — which was being cultivated by local farmers — for the purpose of quarrying, despite that agreement being fraught with irregularities including the lack of an EIA that is yet to be conducted and made public.

Let us not forget that, the government waived the payment of value added tax (VAT), import duties, excise duties, and customs service charge on the importation of all plant machinery, heavy equipment, motor vessels and motor vehicles to be used by Rayneau during the quarry operations.

Since then, Rayneau has ventured off into the agricultural sector, a sector that he will be dominating given the concessions that he has.

In fact, iWitness News in its article “Did govt fail to help farmers, fishers prepare for Sandals?” reported a statement by Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar that shows that Rayneau is already a force to be reckoned with in the above-mentioned sector. The article quoted Caesar as saying “we will be working with all food producers in the coming weeks. It was also great showcasing OECS solidarity with Rayneau Industries present, which has been in consultation with Sandals over the past weeks”. No mention was made of any local farmer being a part of such a discussion.

Secondly, Rainforest Seafood Ltd was offered a dominant position in our fisheries sector by the government. Rainforest has been allowed to enjoy a 15-year tax break. Rainforest did not pay any taxes or duties on a wide range of items for the construction of the processing facility, as well as equipment, including boats and trucks. To date, Rainforest is not paying taxes or duties on a wide range of stuff.

Sadly, not one local businessman or company can say that they have such privileges to their disposal in the fisheries sector, that will allow them to compete with Rainforest.

Thirdly, the government carried out a “robbery” of poor farmers and landowners  like “Shaka” to ensure that Sandals got what they wanted, and with little or no disruption in the Buccament area.

Whatever was agreed upon by the government of SVG and Sandals is yet to be known by the public. However, after a July visit and meeting between the government and Adam Stewart, Stewart said “my team left SVG on a high”. This was after another agreement was signed in regard to the resort operating in SVG.

Sadly, with all the recent revelations by the government of SVG, in relation to how Sandals will be conducting business once it begins operations on March 27, 2024, it is quite clear, that what was agreed upon between the government and Sandals, does not have the wellbeing of the average Vincentian to heart.

The lies that were spewed, the promises that were made, and the hopes that were built up by the government once the agreement was made with Sandals weren’t anything new. For years, lies, propaganda and empty promises continue to be key players in the modus operandi of this government. Quite clearly, our farmers and fishermen were given a “6 for a 9” by the government that sings how much they love the poor.

Disgracefully, farmers and fishermen high hopes are now being dashed as the government waited about two weeks before the scheduled opening date of Sandals to let the locals know that Sandals will not be interested in doing business with individuals. Therefore, only aggregators like Rainforest and Rayneau will be able to approach such an entity to supply them with produce. Mainly in the fisheries and agricultural sectors respectively.

Further, the prime minister advised the local fishermen to sell to Rainforest, who allegedly has links with Sandals (conflict of interest?), who will in-turn sell to Sandals. In addition, the farmers were encouraged to look for someone they can all sell their produce to, then that aggregator will sell to Sandals. We all know that Rayneau Industries will be the one identified as the aggregator for farmers.

In summary, if Sandals SVG is really a dream 20 years in the making, then our prime minister for the last 23 years, had more than enough time to make sure that the investment benefits the locals equally, if not more. But because the local small man is never a priority in the deals with foreign direct investors, they always end up with the short end of the stick, if a grip holds at all!

Vincentians, it is not acceptable to be quiet anymore. If something is wrong, let it be wrong, and call it for what it is. Speak up! No matter how little or big you are in this small country. We definitely cannot continue with this government selling out our country into a form of modern-day slavery and colonialism.

Most importantly, I know a lot of you are conditioned to think that only the ULP is good for the country. I know that a lot of you who may have been elevated to a house slave think that it is always your duty to protect and serve the master. This should not be the case once you realise that the actions and decisions that are being taken by the master aren’t supporting your wellbeing. This is slavery all over again, just that this time it is psychological and economical.

The current administration continues to FAIL to deliver for the ordinary man and it is well OVERDUE for a CHANGE of government in SVG.

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

3 replies on “Local keeps getting the short end as sale of SVG continues”

  1. Too bad you don’t know that these are normal business practices across the developed world.

    If we ever hope to make a transition from a developing country to a developed one, we must adopt these modern and efficient business ones and reject the primitive and wasteful ones that preceded them.

  2. These type of strategy never benefits the poor this is more of an extraction and not an investment. Any profit made is distributed to foreign investor and not reinvested locally. So as I said, extraction.

  3. Excellent piece Troy oh how I wish someone would secure the 2022 NIS actuarial report and does this type of expose on the contents

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