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Sandals Beaches Resort, seen here on Jan. 30. 2024, is slated to open officially on March 27, 2023.
Sandals Beaches Resort, seen here on Jan. 30. 2024, is slated to open officially on March 27, 2023.
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  • Citizens can’t be blamed for not taking advantage of opportunities only govt knew about
  • Benefits should not ‘trickle down’, farmers, fishers must be part of the plan  
  • Vincentians ‘can’t be spectators of development in our own country’
  • CBI is about attracting private sector investment

As Sandals Beaches Resort at Buccament Bay prepares to open on March 27, the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) is pushing back against suggestions that it is against private sector investment.

Party President and Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday, noted that the NDP is a centre-right party and has a pro-business philosophy.

He further said that while the ruling Unity Labour Party government criticises the NDP for supporting citizenship by investment (CBI), the programme is actually about attracting private sector investment to a country.

“It’s critically important for us when we have any kind of development that we ask the question as to how we can benefit most from it,” Friday said.

Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves has told Parliament that Sandals had generated US$200 million in foreign direct investment.

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He further said concessions that the resort received during construction would shift to imported food and beverage, duty free shop, “among others” when operations begin

The resort will employ 575 locals when it opens and that number is anticipated to increase to 900 locals within one year of opening day, Gonsalves told Parliament.

However, some Vincentians appeared to have been surprised over the last few weeks by revelations that Rainforest, a company connected to Sandals by familial links, would supply seafood to the resort.

Further, Sandals will operate its own tour company and Rayneau Industries, owned by St. Lucian businessman Rayneau Gajadhar, who came to St. Vincent to set up a stone quarry which two years behind schedule, is in the running to be the “aggregator” to supply agricultural produce to the resort.

“I know that one of the issues that have been very much in the public domain, and quite rightly so, is the opening up Sandals and the questions as to how we are going to benefit from it,” the opposition leader said on “New Times” on NICE Radio on Monday, noting that he has spoken about the issue before on radio and in other fora.

Godwin Friday
Opposition Leader Godwin Friday in a Sept. 26, 2023 photo.

‘it shouldn’t be just a matter of trickling down’

The opposition leader said that in any negotiations, there must be somebody looking out for the people.

“We have to have somebody saying well, listen, this is a negotiation between parties of unequal strengths,” he said, adding that the public does not know how strong Sandals is in relation to the government negotiators.

He noted that Sandals has three resorts in St. Lucia, adding, “they have a stronger position here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We are basically coming to the table now for the first time. And it is the obligation, the duty of the government to look out for the interests of the country, look out for the interests of the people.”

Friday noted that the country would benefit from the “spin offs”, adding that the government will not receive a part of the room rate or food and beverages sold at the hotel.

The opposition leader said the government should be considering the goods and services provided to the resort and how that benefits people.

He said he does not like the expression “trickle down”, adding, “it shouldn’t be just a matter of trickling down.

“We think about trickle, you don’t know where it is going and it’s just something that happens almost automatically. And you need to have a plan as to how you’re going to integrate our farmers, our fisherfolk, our local professionals and service providers in the taxi business, all the tourist-related things, how are they going to be integrated into this development so that we can have the greatest spin offs from it so that there’s a ripple effect throughout the economy.”

Friday said this is how these things function. 

“And what we’re hearing are very concerning things … about, the unreadiness of the government right now for essentially ensuring that our people would benefit from it.”

Friday noted that the government had access all the time to whatever agreement it reached with Sandals.

“You come all of a sudden then spring this on them (farmers and fishers) when you tell them in the Parliament the other day there’s 700,000 pounds, millions of dollars’ worth of goods and services that will be provided and people would benefit from this.

“And what happens is that they turn around now and say that it’s for you to make yourself ready. Ready in what way? How do we know what we need to do? You haven’t told us and Sandals now says, ‘We want to deal with one supplier or two suppliers or whatever major suppliers.’ Who are these going to be?

Is it going to be simply rainforests, which I’m told is related to their operation in terms of family relations? Where’s the government in readying our people to take advantage of the opportunities that come there?”

Friday said that this cannot be the way to do development, adding that this is why he does not like the notion of trickle down.

“That is something that you have to plan in advance; you have to know that this is coming because you have access to the agreement. Whatever agreement they make with Sandals, we don’t have it. It’s not part of public domain.”

Rayneau Gajadhar 2
St. Lucian businessman Rayneau Gajadhar, seen in a January 2021 photo, says his company is in conversation to supply agriculural produce to Sandals.

‘We can’t be spectators of development in our own country’

Friday said that the government did not ready the country for participation in the major economic enterprise.

“It was not the case during this stage of construction,” he said, noting that the government allowed Sandals to import a lot of workers because they wanted to accelerate the construction.

“It’s always a matter of convenience and expediency … whereas the same time the rest of our people are just being left aside because they’re too slow, they want too much money, they’re not skilled enough and all this kind of bullshit that they’re talking about, and talking about people as if they are not part of the development process,” Friday said.

“We can’t be spectators of development in our own country. So, if you think that there are shortcomings, there are bottlenecks, then solve them. Don’t just treat them as though that they’re fatal, that you can’t improve them; you can’t change them so that our people can really benefit and take part in these developments.”

He said this is the only way SVG is going to develop and is also a difference between the NDP’s approach and what the government is doing now.

“Everything is about show; get it done a certain time because we want to have this big conference going here. And if the people can’t participate; well, too bad,” Friday said, referring to the CELAC Summit that the resort will open to host on Friday, 26 days before its official opening.

He said that in his Budget Address, the finance minister spoke about business opportunities for the private sector, saying the government is leading the way in investing and others will take the opportunities if the local private sector is not ready.

“Who the hell is he talking to? I mean, really, this kind of condescension. Who are they working for? For themselves?

“If the people are not in a position to take advantage of opportunities you can see coming from your vantage point, … so what, you’re going to do is just going to leave them to fail?

“And then you expediently say, ‘Okay, let’s bring people in from outside because the local people here they can’t make it.’ That is not the way development takes place, and it doesn’t deal with our people first, which is what I always say, development is about people. We have to deal with our people first, make sure that they benefit from it.”

CBI about foreign direct investment

Friday said the government cannot have it both ways, saying that NDP is against private sector development and still criticise it for supporting CBI.

“That is something that they are opposed to so they can’t have it both ways. We are not opposed to foreign direct investment. We know that to bring the capital to do the scale of development that you have at Sandals or some of the other bigger projects that we have in this country as was done in Canouan, for example, or the development in Mustique, it requires bringing in foreign direct investment, that is to say, investors from abroad,” Friday said.

He said this is done in every country or city, including in the United States and Canada.

“They have plans there to attract investors from outside of their region, outside of their country, outside of the city, because capital is mobile. So how do we get them to come here in order to help us to jumpstart our economy and so forth because we don’t have that level of capital, private capital in order to do it ourselves by ourselves only.

“That is not to say that we don’t have an important role to play. And that is where the difference comes. The government just seems to have gone completely swing the pendulum on one side and just relying on these big investors from abroad and then bringing whatever conditions that they wish and giving them whatever they want, and so forth.”

4 replies on “Govt talking ‘all this kind of bullshit’ but not helping Vincies benefit from Sandals – Friday”

  1. Simple really no need for long talk let’s be honest that’s if they even publish this lol 😂 wealth stays with wealth ?? How do you expect poor people locals to benefit ???? Honesty isn’t the best policy or transparency isn’t what we are famous for ???? Three type of people we have in our beloved land. Leaders followers and the Dotish ones Simplesssss

  2. Rubbish, all of it.

    How can it be said that, “some Vincentians appeared to have been surprised over the last few weeks by revelations” that Sandals will be operating in SVG exactly the same way they have been operating all over the Caribbean for decades, always buying most of its produce from large aggregators, as do hotels all over the world whether in the tourist business or not.

    And where does Friday think Rainforest is going to get their seafood from to sell over to the resort if not from our own fisherfolk.

    Likewise, Rayneau Gajadhar will have to hire extra staff to aggregate the produce he will then sell to the resort. And where will this produce come from if not from our farmers who will have to increase their production to meet the increasing needs of thousands of tourists.

    Even if Sandals operates its own tour company, who is going to drive the buses and service the vehicles except our own people.

    Many tourists like to do their own thing while will give a huge boost to our car rental business. Others prefer not to tour on large buses with other people which will stimulate lots of business for our taxi drivers.

    As for beverages, much will come from our very own local companies who will supply rum, beer, and soft drinks to the resort, employing more staff to meet the new demand increase in the process.

    There are also countless opportunities for small scale vendors, roadside food stalls, and craftspersons when the tourists leave the resort to explore our island.

    Let’s also not forget the increased revenue at our underused airport that Sandals visitors will generate.

    And what about the possible millions to be earned annually via marijuana and other drug sales, not to mention the sex trade that a large resorts like this always bring with them. Sex sells and we have lots of sex, both male and female, to sell.

    This is not a “trickle,” as Friday deviously claims. He well knows it will be a flood but can’t say so for political reasons.

  3. True he talking one whole heap of hog wash, cant negotiate an agreement to save his life, not very bright in math dont no his equations or statistics, cant get a good deal done for us vincy.

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