Letter To Hon. Nickolas Steele from a Shareholder of Grenada PLC

Sandra C.A. Ferguson
c/o P.O. Box 750, St. George’s
E-mail: fergca2001@yahoo.com

 

17 November 2013

Hon, Nickolas Steele
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business
Ministerial Complex
St. George’s

 

Dear Minister Steele,

Re: Grenada PLC

Permit me to clarify that I write to you in my personal, individual capacity. Though much time has elapsed, permit me also to offer my congratulations on your electoral victory as representative of the Town of St. George and your subsequent ascent to ministerial office as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business. I was rather taken aback that you would have been handed the very sensitive portfolio of Foreign Affairs so early. I note that you have been quite busy. One might say that you have taken on the portfolio like “a duck takes to water”.

This, Sir, brings me to the substantive reason for my letter to you. While you have considerable competence and experience in the running of an LLC, Hon. Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Business is part of the business, Grenada PLC. As one of its shareholders, permit me to address you on the following matters of significant national interest and concern:

  1. Appointment of Ambassadors
  2. Citizenship by Investment Programme
      1. Citizenship Application Committee
      2. United States Regional Economic Development Authority — Marketing Agent
      3. National Transformation Fund
  3. Climate Change and Grand Anse Beach
  4. Free Trade and Processing Zones

 

1. Appointment of Ambassadors:

Your administration, Minister Steele, has advised on many occasions of its intention to streamline and cutback on Grenada’s foreign missions given the costs to the nation. Nonetheless, Grenada’s interests would continue to be represented by a number of individuals.

  • Current Ambassadors, Consul-Generals and Honorary Consuls: Can you advise, Minister Steele, who are these persons and where are they located?
  • Non-nationals to Diplomatic Postings: Can you advise, Hon. Minister who are the non-nationals that have been appointed as ambassadors/to other diplomatic postings and where are they located? On what BASIS have they been appointed?
  • High Commission, London,
    • High Commission Office, London: Can you advise, Hon. Minister, of the address to which Grenada’s High Commission in London has been re-located? Are the costs of running the High Commission being underwritten by a private individual(s)?
    • Deputy High Commissioner to London, Danny Fakre: It has been announced that one, Mr. Danny Fakre, was appointed Deputy High Commissioner to London. I am unaware of any previous provisions for a Deputy High Commissioner. Can you advise how this decision was arrived at? What QUALIFIES Mr. Fakre to represent Grenada? Who are his business associates? 
  • Ambassador to France: I have also heard that the Egyptian billionaire, Mr. Sawaris, has been appointed Grenada’s Ambassador to France. Can you confirm whether this is so, Hon. Minister, and again on what BASIS, has Mr. Sawaris appointed Ambassador? What are his functions as Grenada’s Ambassador to France? Who briefs him and to whom does he report? As a billionaire, to what end is he using the diplomatic privileges so generously afforded him by Grenada and how is Grenada benefitting?
  • Interests in Brussels: Given that the European Union is Grenada’s largest grant funder, can you advise, Hon. Minister, what arrangements have been put in place in Brussels since Grenada no longer has a mission there?
  • Can you advise, Sir, of the following:
    • Georges Cohen: Is Mr. Georges Cohen still Grenada’s Ambassador to the United Nations Organisation in Geneva?
    • H.E. Peter DeSavary: On what basis is. H.E. Peter DeSavary continuing as an Investment Ambassador when he has to sell Grenada passports and citizenship to finance his projects?
    • Ambassador at Large, Charles Modica: Is Charles Modica still an Ambassador-at-Large? To what end is he using this privilege and how is Grenada benefiting?

 

2. Citizenship by Investment Programme:

You have recently announced, Hon. Minister, four projects to be financed by the National Transformation Fund — which is to be financed by the sale of citizenship and Grenadian passports. There is much that we the shareholders of Grenada PLC do not know about this programme and it is OUR citizenship that is going to be SOLD.

 

2.1. Committee to Review and Approve CBI Applications:

  • Can you advise, Hon. Minister, who makes up the Committee that reviews and approves these applications?
  • How many applications have been received and how many have been approved?

 

2.2. United States Regional Economic Development Authority (USREDA):

Can you advise, Sir, who/what is the United States Regional Economic Development Authority which has announced an “Unprecedented Partnership with Government of Grenada to Manage Citizenship by Investment Programme”. A very OFFICIAL SOUNDING TITLE – Regional Economic Development Authority (!!??) – with stripes and all! BUT WHO ARE THEY? Who is Joseph Walsh, Sr. the President and CEO? How long has this company been in existence? I am concerned that except for the references to Grenada, I CANNOT FIND ANY INFORMATION on this company.

 

2.2.1. Eligibility to Share in the Profits from Oil and Natural Gas:

Can you advise, Sir, what does the brochure put out by this company mean by the following:

  • a participant investor in the Grenada National Transformation Fund will be granted preferred investor status, and be eligible to share in the PROFITS FROM OIL AND NATURAL GAS.
  • In addition to PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT BENEFITS, as a preferred investor, you will be eligible for favourable tax concessions…

I am taken aback that some obscure company could be offering a share of petroleum benefits to “investors” while we the shareholders of Grenada PLC have not at all been informed of any matters pertaining to the exploration of gas and oil. Is your administration still “in charge” as it relates to the matter of the exploration of Grenada’s gas and oil?

 

2.3. National Transformation Fund:

Via the GBN newscast of November 6th, I note that you have identified four projects to be financed under the National Transformation Fund: – Port Louis, Mt Cinnamon, St. David’s Town Centre and West India Spices. Can you advise, Sir:

  • How much financing: How much financing are we talking about here in respect of these four projects?
  • How many passports and citizenships: What is the equivalent number of passports and citizenships that are being sold/that have been sold?
  • Criteria for financing: What are the criteria that projects must meet to be financed by the National Transformation Fund?
  • Who reviews and approves projects: Can you also advise WHO makes up the committee which reviews projects for financing? Can you also advise by whom/what were these persons appointed and to whom do they report?

 

3. Grand Anse Beach and Climate Change:

You have also announced the possibility of 5-star resorts for Grand Anse Beach. I have heard the name of the Egyptian billionaire bandied about in respect to the construction of a resort(s) on at least two portions of the Grand Anse Beach. And you have announced Mt. Cinnamon as an approved project under the National Transformation Fund.

Permit me, Hon. Minister, to express my reservations and concerns about the “grand plans” that your administration plans “to deliver” in respect of resort development on the Grand Anse Beach. I will restrict myself to environmental impact.

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing Small Island Developing States including Grenada. Among the climate change impacts are:- sea level rise, rise in sea surface temperatures and the impact on coral reefs, extreme weather events and storm surges. The Grand Anse Beach area where there is significant hotel stock is particularly vulnerable. Grenada remembers only too well the scale of destruction as a result of Hurricane Ivan and the impact of storm surges brought about by Hurricane Lennie in 1999. Key mitigation measures are the protection of beaches and mangroves as a line of defence and minimizing new construction on coastal areas.

I am not privy to the updated tourism policy and master plan that was developed when Sen. the Honorable Simon Stiell was director of the Grenada Board of Tourism. However, having reviewed the Tourism Master Plan of 1997, permit me to note that most of the issues raised in that document remains pertinent to the current context and proposed “developments”. Permit me to draw to your attention the following recommendations in respect of further development on Grand Anse Beach [1]:

  • Restriction on Further Resort Development: The Tourism Master Plan of 1997 discourages any further resort development on Grand Anse Beach: “Further accommodation development in the Grand Anse area should be RESTRICTED to planned extensions to EXISTING properties, and all major NEW developments should be sited away in locations away from the Grand Anse Beach.”
  • Marshland Area to Remain Undisturbed [2]: “The marshland area south of the abandoned Silver Sands hotel should remain undisturbed as this area helps to retain and filter flood water.”
  • Adherence to the Set Back Regulation [3]: There should be strict adherence to the 50 metres set back regulation.

Typhoon Haiyan and the associated storm surge which recently devastated the Philippine islands are stark reminders that these weather events are a reality. Grenada is VULNERABLE and OUR MARSHLAND AND BEACHES ARE OUR FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE WHICH PROTECT THE COAST FROM HURRICANES AND STORM SURGES.

 

3.1. Mt. Cinnamon Resort and Private Beach Club:

I am really bothered, Hon. Minister, that the passports and citizenship of we citizens and shareholders of Grenada plc may be sold to finance Amb. DeSavary’s plans which could result in the eventual destruction our beloved Grand Anse Beach. Amb. DeSavary, via his Grenada Citizenship by Investment Brochure [4] has announced plans for the Mt. Cinnamon Resort and Private Beach Club. Grenada Beach Club [5] is described as a modern, gated beachfront residential community” with the blue waters of the Caribbean Ocean “caressing the shores almost at your door”.

 

3.2. Amb. DeSavary on Climate Change:

Permit me to draw to your attention a May 2013 article, Encroaching sea already a threat in Caribbean [6], which affords an appreciation of Amb. DeSavary’s lack of concern and his pathetic lack of knowledge on the issue of climate change and the threat it poses to Grenada.

  • Climate Change Impacts – Not Much Attention Required: According to H.E. DeSavary, “most existing beach resorts will have to rebuilt in the coming decades due to normal wear and tear so projected climate change impacts won’t require much attention”.
  • Sea level rise does not matter: “If the sea level rises a foot or two it really doesn’t make any difference here in Grenada because we have beaches that have a reasonably aggressive falloff,” De Savary said.
  • Rise in sea surface temperatures not an issue: “…If the water gets a few degrees warmer, well, that’s what people come to the Caribbean for, warm water, so that’s not an issue.”

Not too long ago, Hon. Minister, via a newscast, I saw and heard you making grand pronouncements in respect of climate change at some UN meeting/conference. I trust that you were not just making a nice sounding speech but that you appreciate(d) the ramifications of what you were saying. I trust that you will take note of the potential environmental and economic disasters that plans for Grand Anse Beach could turn out to be and that you will take the appropriate action.

 

3.3. OECS Public Education Series, Understanding Climate Change, Programme 4:

You do not have to take my word for it, Hon. Minister. I refer you to the public education series, Understanding Climate Change, produced by the OECS Sustainable Development with support from USAID. I refer you, in particular, to Programme 4 which looks at the impact of climate change on coastal areas. The series is available at the Government Information Service. See and hear for yourself. Hear the observations of a businessman, Edward Hadeed, on the hotel that ended up without beach and without guests. Grand Anse Beach is ALREADY under severe pressure. Do you and the Hon. Minister of Tourism really want this to be your legacy — hasten the destruction of one of Grenada’s most prized natural assets with uninformed grand plans “to deliver” 5-star resorts on Grand Anse Beach in the misguided notion of progress and development?

 

4. Free Trade and Processing Zones:

You have also made some references to Carriacou and Brazilian investors who were getting “frustrated” and apparently were interested in export processing zones. Are these the Urbaniza investors who had engaged the previous administration? I note that legislation pertaining to Free Trade and Processing Zones was tabled in the House of Representatives. Is it therefore reasonable to conclude that you have been taking action on this matter? Have the requisite studies, environmental, economic and financial been done? Have the people of Carriacou been advised and consulted?

 

The shareholders of Grenada PLC need information, Hon. Minister. We need to know what the “Directors” are doing in our name and “our behalf”.

I thank you, Hon. Minister, for the opportunity to offer these queries and observations. I trust answers will be forthcoming.

 

Kindest regards!

Sincerely yours,

 

Sandra C.A. Ferguson
Shareholder
Grenada PLC

 


[1] Master Plan for the Tourism Sector: Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, pg. xiv

[2] Master Plan for the Tourism Sector: Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, Section 7.2.1, pp. 119-121

[3] Ibid

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