Wednesday, 17 July 2019 06:17 GMT
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Pension fund investment in proposed Golf resort stirs controversy in St Lucia




(MENAFN - Caribbean News Now) By Caribbean News Now contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia — Saint Lucia will soon boast yet another major tourism investment facilitated by Invest Saint Lucia, Cabot, one of Canada's premier luxury golf resort and residential communities, launched its first-ever international property on the island of Saint Lucia, the statement said; albeit the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) claimed that the 'most recent investment has generated much discussion and concern.'

 'The purpose of this statement is to reassure all our stakeholders, in particular, our contributors, that the NIC at all time acts within the parameters of its investment policy and guidelines which has been in effect since 2002. 

'The 'Cabot project' involves the development of a world-class golf course, construction of a hotel, villas, a beach club and sale of lots. This is expected to generate employment locally as well as provide Saint Lucia with additional visibility internationally.

'The NIC's recent investment in Cabot (St Lucia) Inc. meets the requirement of the Act, the investment policy and guidelines, and its mission and vision statements. The NIC is confident in its decision. The Corporation has always acted and will continue to act 'for the benefit of us all,' signed Matthew L Mathurin, director.

A social media comment quantified the following:

'Incredible. We're using our pension money to invest in projects that stand to enrich private foreign investors while denying us access to our heritage, beaches, landscape. 

'Tell me Mathurin, did you look at the masterplans that show the renaming of the beach that is now proposed to have million-dollar villas on it 'Resident's Beach' indicating that it is for the residents of the villas only? Selling Saint Lucia for foreign profiteering – using our pension money to ultimately deny our children access to their homeland's shores, our 'land of beaches'.' 

Invest Saint Lucia July 5, 2019 statement said:

'Named Cabot Saint Lucia, this new development boasts an extensive range of amenities, including a golf club, residential community and resort, nestled in the panoramic landscape of Point Hardy, a 375-acre peninsula located near Saint Lucia's northern coastline.

'Following the successes of the highly-acclaimed Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia, Canada, both of which were recently named among Golf Digest's 'World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses', the new Saint Lucia property, will include Cabot's third golf course and second resort in its expanding portfolio of world-class properties.

'The crown jewel of the luxury resort will be the 18-hole Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed golf course, the famed designers' carefully chosen first Caribbean project. 

'In addition, the luxury real estate at Cabot Saint Lucia will offer the best of Caribbean living with a collection comprised of stunning hillside townhomes and exceptional single-family homes conceptualized by world-renowned architects, along with customizable beach front and bluff-top grand estate lots. Each home will be surrounded by a panoramic turquoise seascape that provides direct, exclusive access to the resort amenities and golf course. Pre-sales will begin summer 2019, ranging from $760,000 to $10 million.'

Hands — off NIC pension funds

Nevertheless, parliamentary opposition leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Philip J Pierre, on July 27, 2019 called on Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Allen Chastanet, to take his 'hands off the NIC money, and caution him against using pension funds for political purpose.'

This was the latest advice following a recent announcement by the prime minister that he has $100 million for a project in Vieux Fort comprising 15 hotels, [small hotels], a shopping centre and cinemas, will be built on 100 acres of land.

'I hope, I sincerely hope, that the prime minister does not intend to use NIC funds for these kinds of projects,' said Pierre, referring to an actuarial report on the NIC, that may appear now to be very liquid, but NIC pensions funds are for the young people who are still in primary school and in kindergarten.

'So it may appear that the NIC is very liquid; the NIC is not', Pierre reiterated. 'And I'm saying to the prime minister, please, in your desperation to try to win elections, do not use the people's NIC money for investment in private sector projects unless there is full transparency and accountability,' Pierre said.

While we're on the subject, the vision of the NIC reads: An effective, transparent and financially sound institution which is customer focused, provides social protection to the Saint Lucian population and plays a leading role in national development.

Cabot links

Speaking on the development, Ben Cowan-Dewar, chief executive officer (CEO) and Co-founder of Cabot Links stated; 'With the tropical allure found in Saint Lucia and the magnificent ocean views from every corner of this spectacular site, we feel honored to be involved with such a special property within an incredible country.'

Bill Coore, co-principal of Coore & Crenshaw, stated; 'Our goal is to create a golf course with a sense of enjoyment and interest to complement and hopefully equal the site's overwhelming natural beauty, adding, 'If we can accomplish that goal, we believe Cabot Point could become one of the Caribbean's most sought-out courses. Ben Cowan-Dewar and Mike Keiser have certainly found another spectacular property for golf.'

Commenting on the development, chief executive officer (CEO) of Invest Saint Lucia, Roderick Cherry expressed pleasure at inking yet another investment agreement for the island. 

'Situated on a hilltop overlooking the beach, the club and resort at Cabot Saint Lucia will include a 50-suite boutique hotel, three restaurants, boutique retail shops, Cabot Spa and clubhouse. This investment will complement Saint Lucia's high end/luxury image and help strengthen the island's marketing appeal,' Cherry said.

The NIC tag line reads: For the benefit of us all

State corporations and institutions are expected to live up to the highest standards of ethical behaviour and corporate governance; nevertheless, are often unable to assure Saint Lucians' can retire in dignity, and that their pension fund is safe in a country unable to provide basis healthcare, national security, basic infrastructure and/or provide investments in the social/micro fabric of society: For the benefit of us all.

The vision of the NIC reads: An effective, transparent and financially sound institution which is customer focused, provides social protection to the Saint Lucian population and plays a leading role in national development.

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Pension fund investment in proposed Golf resort stirs controversy in St Lucia

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