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May 8, 2020

PM Weighs in on Harvest Caye

Earlier this week, we reported that Harvest Caye was being put up as part of several collaterals for the financially embattled Norwegian Cruise Line to float a bond of two billion U.S. dollars to kick start its operations in August.  The Florida-based company did not consult with or inform the Government of Belize that it was collateralizing the privately held property southeast of Placencia.  According to PM Barrow, the island was privately owned prior to its sale to Norwegian and as a result there was nothing government could have done to interfere with that transaction.  He says that since Norwegian was successful in securing the bonds that business should resume in Belize later this year.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We did have somebody from the Financial Times reach out to us.  Norwegian, as you know, floated some bond to try to raise financing so that they would be in a position to continue once cruise lines begin to operate again.  The question was, did we have any concern because they put up Harvest Caye as collateral for, or as part of the collateral to underpin the offer, the solicitation that they made for people to purchase their bond.  We were asked, well did they consult with the Government of Belize.  The answer was, they didn’t, and what is our position in terms of what the reporter described as a national asset being possibly on the chopping block.  We made the point that while it is and has been for some time now the policy of the government not to have any cayes alienated into private ownership, local or foreign, that private ownership of Harvest Caye predated even Norwegian’s purchase of the property.  So there was nothing we could do to stop one private owner from selling Harvest Caye which he owned to Norwegian.  Norwegian having bought the caye free and clear certainly and legal was entitled as they have done to put it up as part of the collateral for the loan or the bond that they were floating.  I saw where in fact their bond issue was successful.  I think they raised in excess of two billion dollars.  So the answer to your particular and pointed question is that with that kind of money one would expect that they will continue to operate once the cruise industry opens up and my best sense of that, I believe, they’ve actually put out schedules that see proposed a start date of August.”

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