Opposition MP says Sandals has been given unfair advantage
St Clair Leacock
March 1, 2024
Opposition MP says Sandals has been given unfair advantage

Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St Clair Leacock, has knocked the government for failing to create what he has described as a “harmonious balance” between the interest of the country and those of foreign investors.

His comments were made in relation to the supply of fish to Sandals Resort which is expected to be officially opened on March 27, 2024.

It was revealed by Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, during a Star Radio programme earlier in February that the Resort would be buying fish and produce from individuals, but “would rather be making purchase through Rainforest Seafood at Calliaqua”.

In response, president of the National Fisherfolk Organization, Winsbert Harry described the PM’s comments as a “disadvantage towards the fisherfolks in St Vincent and the Grenadines”.

Leacock, speaking at a New Democratic Party press conference on February 21, 2024, said the government is responsible for regulating how business operates and one entity must not be given preference over citizens.

“You cannot have a society where you invite in foreign investments and end up in a situation of a government within a government. Government must have regulations and it must always have societal interests at heart even while it is promoting a private sector. A private sector cannot be allowed to be laws unto themselves and to be given by, in this case, artificial rents. That is, they having a monopoly or special provisions out of tax incentives, such that they are unfair to the housewife, they are unfair to fisherfolk, they are unfair to the government, they are unfair to the government institutions, and they are just swimming in profits. No. There has to be a balance,”Leacock declared.

Both Harry and Leacock expressed confidence in the supply system where the Kingstown Fish Market purchases fish from local vendors, with Leacock describing the arrangement as a “win-win” situation.

“You can’t have a situation where we now suddenly become Sandals and the Grenadines. It has to be St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So that’s the wider and better interest. When we see it come into conflict with government’s role as an arbitrator and it conflicts with the best interests of the man on the street, the housewife, then it is government’s role to intervene.”

Opposition Senator Israel Bruce, also speaking at the press conference said Rainforest was “invited in with the view that they will assist with the export of fish and fish products out of SVG”. He said Sandals’ priority in the country should be on “local consumption”.