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Jan 13, 2016

B.T.I.A. Victorious vs. G.O.B. and Norwegian Cruise Lines

In June 2014, the first arguments in the Belize Tourism Industry Association versus the Government of Belize/Norwegian Cruise Lines were heard in the Supreme Court. It is a little over a year and a half since the case began and this morning, Justice Courtney Abel read his two-hour decision in the matter. B.T.I.A. had sought the court’s ruling on a contention that the Harvest Caye development had been pushed through without proper consultation carried out by the Department of the Environment. Even though the project is now nearing completion, the ruling was still significant because it spoke to the procedures to be adhered to in this and any new project of this type. Justice Abel found that indeed, proper consultation was not done and the relevant parties took shortcuts which should not have been taken. As he exited the Courtroom in high spirits, B.T.I.A. President Osmany Salas told News Five that he is extremely happy about Justice Abel’s decision.

 

Osmany Salas

Osmany Salas, President, B.T.I.A.

“This case is about the future, was about the future. As the Judge himself pointed out the Chief Environmental Officer noted that the harvest Caye project was among the top three dredging projects in the country in terms of scale and magnitude…huge. We were also pleased that the Court pointed out that this was not only to be seen as an academic exercise. There were major matters of principle that needed to be considered. We were very pleased about that. The Prime Minister himself has pointed out that the tourism industry is the foundation for the present and future well-being of the nation. We at the B.T.I.A. feel that our natural resources and the health of our environment is the foundation of our tourism industry. That is why from the very beginning we recognized the importance of this case. So yes we have been vindicated and we are very happy about the decision.”

 

Reporter

“Do you think in hindsight the B.T.I.A. should have explored getting an injunction to stop the project?”

 

Osmany Salas

“It was never about stopping the project. It would have been a huge risk for us to do that if it did not go in our favour. B.T.I.A. does not have deep pockets. We have very shallow pockets. So for us it was about procedure, about the public having sufficient opportunity, ample opportunity to be consulted and to offer their concerns, their comments and for ample time to be given for the powers that be to consider these comments.”

 

Reporter

“Is there any confidence that the decision handed down today will provide a guideline for government in the future, or the D.O.E. in the future?”

 

Osmany Salas

“We feel so. We feel so. And the way the judgement went, if in the future the D.O.E. and the NEAC do not oblige as they legally should they can be brought to Court again. Essentially they were rapped on the knuckles. It was a firm message to them. You have important legal obligations, particularly in terms of public consultations and notice. You must carry them out properly.”

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4 Responses for “B.T.I.A. Victorious vs. G.O.B. and Norwegian Cruise Lines”

  1. concerned says:

    Sadly this is a hollow victory if you look at who are the real puppet masters

  2. Frustrated says:

    Ridiculous! The people of Belize pay, while officials enjoy their kickbacks and Norwegian reaps the benefits. No real incentive to prevent this from happening again. D.O.E. officials need to be held accountable!!

  3. Real Belizean says:

    The BTIA is just another version of GOB. It’s all a show because in the end they all laugh happily ever after. It is all a planned show

  4. Hatari says:

    In response to “Real Belizean”, you could not be farther from the truth. BTIA is a private industry association and I assure you this was not for the show it was a legal battle in attempt to hold GOB accountable . . . and we succeeded from a legal standpoint. Now whether or not GOB pays any attention to the Judge’s ruling, we shall see.

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