This is an extremely long yet interesting view on corporate responsibility as it relates to Nature and the Environment, in this case Grenada’s. NB – I do not necessarily subscribe to the views expressed and please consult the actual author of the article instead…

In reading the item, I once again lamented how the Environment Ministry of Barbados cannot pay attention do the right thing with Graeme Hall?

And now… One of the most determined people in the Caribbean!

Mr. Justin Evans
Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce
GIDC Industrial Park
St. George?s

Dear Mr. Evans,

Re: Letter of September 22nd, 2009: To Citizens in Defence of Land and Heritage

Citizens in Defence of Grenada?s Lands and Heritage thanks you for your above-referenced communication, in response to our invitation of 1st September re Public Forum – Port Louis Marina Development. We are deeply disappointed that your organization has declined this opportunity to share its information and insights with the general public in a forum which would permitted dissenting views to be articulated, questions to be asked and clarifications to be sought. Given the recent public relations thrust that some in the private sector – including yourself – seem to have undertaken on behalf of this development, we had hoped for informed and enlightened discussion facilitated by those who, apparently, were equipped to do so. We are really baffled as to how all parties, who are telling the general public that this project is Grenada?s salvation, seem to be intent on avoiding, at all costs, any forum which affords an opportunity to the public to articulate its queries and concerns.

We have noted the GCIC?s public statement ?on the matter? and wish to comment as follows:

1. Legally Binding Agreement between the Government of Grenada, Peter De Savary and Camper and Nicholson:

We are aware of allegations re the transfer of the people?s property by the Government of Grenada to Peter De Savary for EC$1 ? the property that Peter De Savary sold to Camper and Nicholson for US$24. The transactions, involving the transfer of people?s property to Peter De Savary, have been less than transparent and have raised questions as to whether the transactions have been ?above board? and therefore whether the transactions and subsequent transactions are legally binding. The first responsibility of the Government of Grenada is to the people of Grenada. Contrary to a recent statement made by Hon. Joseph Gilbert that ?we have passed the stage of debate of the sale of the lagoon to Peter De Savary? ( ref. Barnacle September 2009, pg 5), that stage will only be past when the government ?comes clean? and informs the people of Grenada of the details of that transaction.

When Camper and Nicholson Marina Investments (CNMI, the Company) bought the Port Louis marina, a press release advised that their Investment Adviser, Camper and Nicholson Marinas International, was responsible for the negotiations and due diligence. Did the due diligence simply choose to ignore that there were citizens?, concerns, queries and even opposition as regards this transaction and aspects of the proposed development? Does the caveat – Buyer Beware- not apply to CNMI?

2. Sustainable and Suitable Development:
The GCIC statement makes reference to Grenada?s need for sustainable and suitable development. However the statement appears to be deliberately vague as to whether the Port Louis Marina development is categorized as an example of sustainable, suitable development. We beg to differ with any suggestion that the Port Louis marina development can be considered sustainable or suitable.

The harbour of St. George?s is one of the prettiest and most unique in the world ? a naturally sheltered horse shoe shaped harbour, enclosed by its characteristic twin headlands. Our people are agonizing over the wanton destruction, desecration and alienation of an area of extraordinary natural beauty and heritage value to the people of Grenada – the Islander Headland, Ballast Ground and Lagoon area. It is ironic that the excavation and reclamation activities in the Ballast Ground/Islander headland areas have destroyed the natural sandbank and reefs which protected the area and now made the Carenage and Lagoon areas vulnerable to sea surges.

Sustainability, as we understand it, takes care of the resources so that it is passed on to future generations for their use and benefit. As is happening now, the management of the resource is about the objective of Camper and Nicholson – getting the greatest lettable berth space to be rented at US$2,000 per square metre ? indifferent to the extent of the ?environmental footprint?.

We take this opportunity to draw to the attention of the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce the violation of the conditions laid down in respect of the land fill in the vicinity of the Lagoon Park. It is our understanding that the approval for land fill was subject to the use of a silt trap and rock revetment to restrict/minimize the silt plumes, thus protecting the immediate and wider marine environment, particularly the fish life and reefs. We refer you to the Grenada Broadcast website – and suggest that the Executive listens to presentation by the representative of the Physical Planning Unit which lays out the conditions of approval.

Permit us to draw to your attention that many persons engage in line fishing – children, women and men. Fishing is both a recreational activity and one undertaken to satisfy a real basic need of putting food on the table. It is a coping strategy which is likely to become even more significant given the tough economic times the country is facing. We are aware that there are many of your members who may scoff at the idea that many persons in the Lagoon area engage in line fishing but we advise that it is a reality that your membership would do well to understand and acknowledge.

We suggest, Sir, that you talk to the many yachties who visit Grenada yearly and who have anchored in the Lagoon over many years. They will tell you that the Lagoon is dying (if it is not already dead!). The natural flushing mechanisms which cleaned the Lagoon have been destroyed by reclamation.

Citizens in Defence of Grenada?s Lands and Heritage is of the view that the Port Louis marina development which is destroying and alienating an area of significant natural, aesthetic and historical heritage of our country cannot be considered either sustainable or suitable.

3. Foreign Direct Investment:
We note your statement ? ?As a developing country, we cannot ignore our requirement for appropriate Foreign Direct Investment. This investment should promote efficient use of resources for facilitating growth, provide revenue, access to export markets, use appropriate inputs and increase opportunities??. It would appear that your statement has identified a number of criteria by which to measure/identify ?suitable? foreign direct investment. However, your statement has stopped short of indicating how the development of the Camper and Nicholson Port Louis Marina meets these criteria. And indeed, that was the intent of the Public Forum ? to provide an opportunity for the Chamber to elaborate on the various aspects of the development that it considers significant.

Permit us to draw to your attention that the Camper and Nicholson Marina Investment Statement of Accounts to December 2008 stated that US$10.7m was spent in respect of Port Louis marina development during 2008. Can GCIC shed some light as to how much of that US10.7m circulated and multiplied in the local economy, creating further prosperity and growth? Grenada is a small economy and one can see and feel what EC$1 m does at Carnival time for the economy, and US$10.7 million is so much more. However, it would seem that US$10.7m does not appear to be significantly impacting the economy at a time when it should be pretty evident. These were the type of insights that the Public Forum was intended to shed light on.

We also suggest that the Chamber would do well to acquaint itself with the fiscal provisions of the agreements with Peter De Savary, which are transferable to his subsequent buyers, e.g. like Camper and Nicholson Marina Investments. We further wish to note that while the citizens of this country, including the most vulnerable, will be facing the burden of Value Added Tax next year ? an initiative that is championed by the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce ? Camper and Nicholson, Peter De Savary et al will be enjoying the all manner of exemptions from taxes. It is our opinion that there is something inherently obscene about this arrangement.

We are not unaware of the important role of foreign direct investment and suggest that our diaspora can be a source of significant foreign investment as well as a source of all types of expertise that our country requires. However, it seems to us that political parties, in and out of office seem to think that the role of our diaspora is to provide party campaign financing and participate in some charity/welfare initiatives. We suggest that this conjuncture provides an excellent opportunity for the administration to ?put its money where its mouth is? and engage the diaspora in this area critical to Grenada?s development. It is our view that Grenada?s significant physical and cultural assets (such as the Lagoon) should not be alienated from the ownership and control of Grenada and diaspora investment is an initiative that should be conscientiously and systematically pursued.

4. Land Usage Policy:
We agree that a land use policy should be developed as a matter of urgency. However, we also note that while a land use policy may not be in place, there are guidelines, planning regulations and considerations that are in place to guide prudent decisions. This requires integrity, competence and political will of the persons charged with making the decisions.

5. Overall Development Strategy:
We note the call of the Chamber for engagement of public and private stakeholders in the development of an overall national development strategy. Permit us to draw to your attention that considerable resources were expended by the Agency for Reconstruction and Development in engaging both public and private stakeholders in the development of the National Development Strategy facilitated by Dr. Sylvia Charles who was attached to the ARD. Permit us to suggest that this document may be a good starting point and that the GCIC should take down its own copy from the shelf and review. Then the GCIC may want to call for national engagement on this document.

6. Real Issue vs. Ambiguity:
Your statement advises that investors do not fear conditions, they fear ambiguity. It further requests that as a nation ?we are mindful of the real issue and to be aware of the negative impact to potential investors??

What are the ?real issues? to which the Chamber refers? You would forgive us if we observe that the vagueness of the GCIC?s public statement ?on the matter? smacks of the very ambiguity against which it counsels.

Permit us to point out that as citizens and as civic organizations, it is our responsibility to discuss and debate issues of national development. Investments which involve the people?s property, the absence of transparency and accountability in respect of transactions to facilitate these investments and physical development which does not follow approved planning procedures and guidelines are the real issues for those concerned about sustainable and suitable development.

The reluctance of the company, government ministers and advisors and all those who purport to be proponents of this development to confront public scrutiny of this development suggests that ?there is more in the mortar besides the pestle?. The question is ?what else is there in the mortar??

We take the opportunity to advise yourself and the members of the Executive of the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce that on the request of the representative of the Government, the Public Forum was postponed. We trust that the Chamber will receive the next invitation with the ?good intent conveyed? and avail itself of the opportunity of participating in the forum.

Sincerely yours,

Citizens in Defence of Grenada?s Lands and Heritage

{Bajan Reporter’s FYI Don’t you need answers as to why it’s taking so long for ANYTHING to happen with Graeme Hall in Barbados? E-Mail Government directly! Barbados’ Environment Minister is Denis Lowe;}

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