Prime Minister Condemns Vaughan Lewis - November 20, 1998
PRESS STATEMENT BY DR. THE HONOURABLE KENNY D. ANTHONY
PRIME MINISTER CONDEMNS VAUGHAN LEWIS
Yesterday, Dr. Vaughan Lewis issued a statement condemning the Government over the involvement of NIPDEC in several projects in St. Lucia including the building of the Multi-Storey Car Park. I have listened with much amazement, and regret, at the numerous stories circulating in the local and regional media about the Government of Saint Lucia and NIPDEC. Many of these stories by the United Workers Party have given currency to baseless allegations and cast doubts about NIPDEC’s legitimacy and the government’s contracts with the company.
As a Government, we have opened up the media to all to express their views and concerns on developments in this country. We have said that we will continue to safeguard freedom of the press and expression of opinion but we will always reserve the right to respond. It is routine that we will respond to misinformation and offer clarification when it is required. We have never hesitated to do so.
However, the United Workers Party, through Dr. Vaughan Lewis, continues to abuse the newly found privileges that we have offered with an open and transparent Government. The United Workers Party and Dr. Lewis, in particular, have crossed the boundary from expressing a concern based on misinformation to deliberate deceit and blatant dishonesty.
Dr. Lewis knows, and we have repeated to the media, that the Government did not sign any agreement with NIPDEC for the construction of the Multi-Storey Car Park. The Car Park is a private investment initiative in which NIPDEC only holds 15% of the shares. The Car Park is majority owned by local interests.
I was absolutely shocked to hear Dr. Lewis’ shameless attempt to deny his administration was already committed to the Project with NIPDEC. I say shocked, not surprised, because I have a copy of a letter to the General Manager of NIPDEC, dated 25th April, 1997, less than one month before the last General Elections, and signed by Dr. Lewis who was the Prime Minister at the time, confirming his and the UWP Government willingness to proceed with the implementation of that project.
I am going to read this letter to you and the letter is attached for your reference:
Mr. Noel Garcia
National Insurance Property Development Company Limited
50-60 St. Vincent Street
Port of Spain
Dear Mr. Garcia,
I am in receipt of your letter dated 24 March, 1997 on the above subject.
I am pleased to have received confirmation that NIPDEC is keenly interested in implementing the project, and that financing for the project has already been sourced.
I am pleased to confirm Government’s willingness to proceed with the implementation of this important project with NIPDEC taking on the role of lead agency, working in close collaboration with national agencies such as the Housing and Urban Development Corporation.
I look forward to receiving from you, at your earliest convenience, a Draft Agreement, setting out the precise terms of the functional relationship that will be required between Government of St.Lucia and NIPDEC, in respect of this exciting project.
In his statement to the media, Dr. Vaughan Lewis said, "that after not having succeeded with his administration NIPDEC found a new, naïve, inexperienced and desperate government". Now who is attempting to throw dust in the eyes of the St. Lucian people ? Can someone explain the phenomenon that is Vaughan Lewis ? How can someone be so callous in his respect and regard for people ? How can anyone explain someone who would, less than one month before the General Elections, sign a letter confirming a willingness to proceed with the Project and now with such ease deny he ever have any contact with NIPDEC or for that matter deny that NIPDEC succeeded in getting him to agree to the project?
Dr. Lewis refers to my government as "new, naïve and inexperienced". New, yes…with fresh ideas and a new way of doing things. Naïve and inexperienced, yes…. at corrupt practices; and desperate, yes…to remove this country from the depths of neglect, deceit and moral decay left behind by a Party that is unable, even now to extricate itself from the web of corruption it weaved. In fact, many investors were relieved when the UWP lost the last Elections, so notorious they were for corruption and arrogance.
Dr. Lewis calls the NIPDEC agreement inappropriate and not in the national interest. The facts are that all the projects being undertaken by NIPDEC have commenced and are breathing much needed life into the construction sector and the economy. The United Workers Party will not prevent this government from providing employment for the people of St. Lucia. This economy was "waiting to exhale", having been strangled to stagnation by previous administrations.
I want to urge the UWP and Dr. Lewis to use the new openness in the conduct of public affairs for constructive purposes. But they must always be reminded that I have access to all the files and documents of the past, that is the documents they left behind, and I have an obligation to defend the integrity of the Government and the people of St. Lucia. However, my desire is that they will assist us in improving the conduct of political life and the nature of political discourse.
This Government has maintained a policy of transparency and will continue to do so.
KENNY D. ANTHONY
© 2012 Government Information Service. All rights reserved.
Read our privacy guidelines.