By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cruise development with Global Ports Holding (GPH) and the Government of Saint Lucia (GOSL), October 25, has gathered much attention, albeit – in the wrong direction.
The unavailability of the MoU for public scrutiny and broad consultation, has gathered immense attention relative to conflict, contradictions, and contrarianism, the details of which are expected in the concessionaire agreement which has not been negotiated or signed.
In general practice, an MoU is a formal document, a framework, with key takeaways to the core structure, the mutually accepted expectations of all of the parties, and signals that a legally binding contract is imminent.
The signing of the MoU has signalled the parties’ intent and/or expression of agreement to proceed on a course of action.
“The Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) is delighted to have participated in and witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of Saint Lucia and Global Ports Holding (GPH) ltd. Through this agreement, SLASPA anticipates a transformation of the island’s cruise product, more so, from the standpoint of the development of the port infrastructure.”
However, far from the mantra of transparency and accountability, dysfunction and ineptitude, that has no place in a truly democratic government – the obvious has taken root.
Absent from the characters listening to the propaganda and communication ineptitude, the following resonates:
“General Manager for the GPH’s Bahamas cruise port, Mike Maura Jr., detailed how the company’s vision for the Castries and Soufriere waterfronts can elevate cruise passenger arrivals to the island, increase cruise passenger expenditure and reestablish Saint Lucia as the premier cruise destination of the sub-region.
“The MoU could pave the way for the construction of improved berthing facilities to accommodate oasis class cruise liners, upgraded vending and duty-free shopping zones, a new fishing village and ferry facility in Banannes Bay, a new dock in Soufriere and, an almost one-mile-long boardwalk along the Castries Waterfront from La Place Carenage to Pointe Seraphine.
“Global Ports Holding’s redevelopment proposal invites greater participation in the local tourism sector, and can create new business opportunities for Saint Lucia’s tourism industry stakeholders,” Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, (SLASPA) reads in part:
“Over the past few months, we have formally engaged with the various agencies and entities involved in developing the framework that will assist in realizing the expected deliverables of this undertaking.
“The port council and management team are encouraged by this MOU and remain eager to realize the envisaged outcome of mutual benefits. We stand ready to continue our collaboration as we move forward with this partnership.”
“Global Ports Holding’s redevelopment proposal invites greater participation in the local tourism sector, and can create new business opportunities for Saint Lucia’s tourism industry stakeholders.”
Lisa Jawahir, communications director, SLP, said:
“Global Ports Holdings (GPH) is not in the business of owning any cruise ports – they only manage them. This idea or this narrative that the government of Saint Lucia has sold any of our ports – is absolutely false.
“Now speaking on behalf of the SLP […]. We are maintaining our promise to the people – that not one part of Saint Lucia will be sold.
“What is being proposed is for GPS to assist in managing the ports – and – what has happened is the signing of a MoU – a 30 year concession for cruise-related operations to manage the port. In absolutely no way has the port been sold.”
An MOU clearly outlines specific understandings and commitments, with clearly defined scope, roles and responsibilities. Subject to the understanding of multiple narratives, and the construct of explaining the MoU, hitherto is noteworthy: # transformation of the island’s cruise product # construction of improved berthing facilities # development of the port infrastructure # collaboration … with this partnership # assist in managing the ports.
By any stretch of the imagination, the MoU is expectedly not elaborate that it contains matters of national security, thus, barring such that can be easily blotted out – for the mutually accepted expectations of the people of Saint Lucia.
The GOSL can easily dispel conflict, contradictions, and contrarianism that are seemingly the main events of the MoU for Saint Lucia’s cruise port development by – Levelling with the people and explaining in conscience narratives the MoU.
Transparency and accountability is a functional pillar of democracy. Such practices are paramount to legally binding documents that clench the people of Saint Lucia for 30-plus years.
The biggest drawback is a change from expectations and a government seemingly associated with an MOU that resembles a bounce-and-draw policy, and to a great disadvantage – a big waste of national resources.
The SLP Manifesto 2021, reads:
“The Saint Lucia Party has always demonstrated that it is the political party that cares and respects the dignity of the Saint Lucian people. That is why the following principles continue to guide its policies and implementation decisions:
1. Trust 2. Accountability 3. Honesty 4. Transparency 5. Integrity 6. Discipline 7. Effectiveness.”
“In addition to preparing Saint Lucia to take advantage of the anticipated post-Covid-19 growth in the global Cruising market, we will, also, intensify efforts to convert more visitors coming to our shores as cruisers to land-based visitors.
We, therefore, propose the following:
- Pursue the establishment of Home Porting for Cruise lines.
- Continue the programme of training in collaboration with Cruise Lines for those wishing to work on cruise ships.
- Encourage and support greater Integration of our local culture and customs into the preparation of land-based and virtual tours.
- Continue plans for a cruise port in Vieux Fort and the enhancement of the Castries cruise port.”