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May 21, 2002

Port sold in controversial privatisation

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When the Government of Belize announced that it had decided to privatise the port in 2001, immediately it became a source of controversy. And that controversy escalated dramatically when it became clear that well-known Belizean contractor Luke Espat was looking to become the lead investor in the deal. Today, the Government of Belize announced that the sale is complete and within three months, the transfer of the company and its assets will change hands. This afternoon, News 5′s Janelle Chanona sat down with Espat to discuss his group’s plans for the port.

Luke Espat, Lead Investor, Belize Ports Ltd.

“In Belize the port has a lot of potential. As it is it doesn’t. The land that comes with the legislation that government is passing to make it work, will make it work. And the way we looked at it was, I said to myself, well everybody comes to Belize and buys patrimonial assets and nothing is questioned about it. We feel we could have participated, we stepped into the arena and found ourselves on the equal playing fields on the international circle, with international players, so it made no difference for us as to why and what was possible. I think the port, with the dredging development that came to it, changes the dynamics. Vessels that couldn’t normally come to Belize can come now because they can dock. Yes, there’s a lot wanting, the pier head has to be expanded to accommodate more vessels. Yes, attitude has to change when it comes to how work is orchestrated there, that’s real. Yes, if the reality of privatisation is to realise reduction in cost to the consumer, then we have to be more efficient.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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