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Opposition Senator Israel Bruce, left, and St. Lucian businessman Rayneau Gajadhar.
Opposition Senator Israel Bruce, left, and St. Lucian businessman Rayneau Gajadhar.
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An opposition politician has likened St. Lucian businessman Rayneau Gajadhar and his companies operating in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to “magicians”.

“If you take a fun look at it, you might say that these guys are magicians, that they’ve turned stone into food. That’s a fun way to look at it,” Senator Israel Bruce told a press conference held by the New Democratic Party on Wednesday. 

“But there is a fundamental philosophical issue that underpins that particular act. Because you have to keep in mind that these guys were granted a wide expansion of duty-free allowances, so that they could do the quarry business,” Bruce said.

Gajadhar has been granted a lease to operate a quarry on 59 acres of land at Richmond.

However, the quarry is running two years behind schedule even as he told iWitness News on Thursday that he has formed another company, Rayneau Industries, which will be involved in the trade in agricultural produce.

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The company is in conversation with Sandals Beaches Resort at Buccament Bay to supplies them with agricultural produce when the resort opens on March 27.

But Bruce noted that farmers were removed from the lands at Richmond to pave the way for Gajadhar’s quarry.

“And I’m going to go to north Leeward. My visit is coming,” said Bruce, who is the opposition spokesperson on agriculture and fisheries.

“Because I have to respond to the question whether or not those very lands are the lands under cultivation by that entity that we welcome to our shores, pushed out locals to the side or to someplace else and then now use the same lands for agricultural production, when we were told that they were almost barren and all that was under them was stone,” Bruce said.

“Are we turning stone to food?”

North Leeward Quarry
The quarry site in Richmond on Jan. 19, 2024.

Gajadhar has told iWitness News that he will not be growing his own agricultural produce.

“If we do anything agricultural, it is going to be like a nursery or a project that is going to just be like test projects,” he said, adding, “… what we are going to be doing is basically giving a guarantee that we will purchase your material once you produce it,” he said.

But Bruce said the government has to make sure to protect local farmers.

“You can’t deprive our local farmers at the expense of bringing in foreign investors and we are clear about that,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking at the same press conference, MP for East Kingstown Fitz Bramble, an opposition lawmaker, noted that Gajadhar’s company was given various concessions to set up his stone mining operation.

“And in the process, many farmers were displaced from down in that area. The very farmers now who are — I don’t even want to say have to compete — Rayneau is competing with and against because many of the farmers have been pretty much knocked out of business.”

He said that even if the government had waived 50% of the duties, Gajadhar stone mining operation would have been able to generate “quite a sizable amount of tax revenue to help the finance and to run this country”.

Bramble, who is an economist, noted that the waivers were given to Gajadhar’s quarry even as in the 2024 Budget, the government increased the bus conductor licence fee.

“Can you imagine increasing the charge to a conductor on a van from $15 to $100 and you have a company like Rayneau paying zero in taxes?” Bramble said.

“… and this is why the New Democratic Party will continue to hold his government accountable,” he said, adding that this shows the importance of the broken promises tracker that the party has launched.

“We have to continuously remind the people of this country how this government continues to pull the wool over our eyes in so many ways. We have to hold them accountable,” he said.

Central Kingstown MP, St. Clair Leacock, commenting on the issue at the press conference, noted that during the Budget Debate in January, Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar said that SVG does not produce a commodity of which it can export a container full weekly.

“This is a ministry and a minister where over half a billion dollars has been invested over the last 10 years saying that we have no product — damsel, fat pork, guava, lime, bananas, breadfruit, dasheen, whatsoever –that can fold a container in a sustained way,” Leacock said.

He pointed out that Caesar said the last time that the country came close to that was when it joined with other Windward Islands to ship bananas.

“So that is something to ponder on. How now would Rayneau suddenly be able to sustain on a weekly or a monthly basis, container after container of produce to go abroad or to a domestic purchaser is something that we must ask seriously — we have a production and we have a productivity problem,” Leacock said.

5 replies on “‘Magician’ Rayneau ‘turning stone into food?’”

  1. These NDP politicians are a bunch of clowns.

    Don’t they know that SVG has tens of thousands of acres of idle land and that young people don’t want to engage in backbreaking manual labour with an hoe and cutlass under the hot tropical sun?

    Gajadhar has displaced not one farmer on land they did not own in a region of SVG with idle land all about for the taking.

  2. Ben, it’s not the young people, but rather the parents cultivating the land to feed them, send them to school and cloth them.

    Don’t forget the farmers were pushed aside to accommodate Gajadhar that was to use the land as a quarry but is now talking about farming.

    The facts are there and that is why you can’t label the NDP as dummies.

    It could and would have been easier for the government to work out a plan with the farmers to purchase the land.

    This is where the banks and other financial institutions can help. Where is that African financial outfit that promised to invest in the Caribbean?

    The ULP love to have Vincentians begging or waiting for an election to have money in their pockets. It wants to control them and that is why it blocks every move the farmers and other businesses that try to be independent of government handouts.

    Here is a plan for the ULP or NDP: Allow the youths to get involved with Caesar plan to encourage farmers to start cultivating the food produce Sandal and other outfit needs. There are farming plots available that the youth can utilize. Help them to work on a scheme with owners of vacant plots to use the land and pay out money when funds are available.

    The equipment needed to cultivate the plots can come from loans. I am sure the youths would be happy to get a van so they can move produce and equipment around. This is a great plan for youth employment.

    If you need more ideas of how to accomplish this fantastic idea, “I am here!

  3. C. Ben. David of layou why called the politician Clowns? This is place for debate and rational disourse. You may not agree with a person ,but name calling is not the way to go. If you happened to disagree, then say so with your analysis. There are many things about you that are clowning and many people can find it to be preposterous. One example and there are many examples but thinking that somehow you are one of Israel off-spring. Is not that clownish? But there are many others but will keep those out pertaining to you spouse. Ah gone C.Ben David the only Jew in layou who cannot speak Hebrew.

  4. Stop your Foolishness about young people.
    How much Tax discount does the local man gets to bring in farming equipment.
    With the change in time and technology people work smarter not harder. Gone are the days for working hoe and cutlass, so if the local man can get the aid to bring these machines in don’t you think more people will get involved including the young people.
    Giving a tax break on these machines may encourage them to get into farming etc.

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