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May 14, 2015

P.M. Meets with Royal Caribbean on Stake Bank Project

Dean Barrow

The purpose of his trip to Miami was to meet with executives from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, the majority shareholder in the Fort Street Tourism Village. The discussions centered around the proposed Stake Bank Tourism Development Project by developer Mike Feinstein and RCCL’s controlling interest in the rival enterprise.  As it stands, the existing contract that FSTV has for cruise tourism in Belize City extends to 2028 and legal action is underway in an attempt to prevent developer Feinstein from realizing the Stake Bank project.  While an amicable solution remains to be met, P.M. Barrow, on legal advice, believes that government would win should it be dragged to court over the issue of head tax.  P.M. Barrow gave a brief update on the outcome of his meetings, ahead of another meeting with Feinstein on Friday.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The talks were instructive and certain proposals were discussed but I don’t want to say too much merely because I have a meeting set for tomorrow at three with Mr. Feinstein.  I would want to have a chance to convey to him RCCL’s thinking and get his reaction before I tell tales out of school.  So perhaps after I meet with him sometime after next week, if there’s any progress to report I can come back to you.”

 

Reporter

“However, I would imagine that the central non-negotiable point is that FSTV has an agreement up until 2027 or 28 and any if they stop receiving head tax the government will be held liable.”

 

Dean Barrow

“I don’t know about that.  I have legal opinion that speaks to the contrary but the point is if we go to court over that we believe we would win or could win but the whole purpose of the discussions is to avoid reaching that point.  I would say to you that there’s the very well established argument that the executive certainly can’t bind the legislature.  So we, and I don’t see anything in the agreement that constrained the executive to seek even to persuade the legislature never to alter the tax, never to alter the proportion.  But really, I only say this to make the point that it’s not an open and shut situation in terms of the so-called contractual rights of RCCL.”

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