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Jul 31, 2020

No Nationalization of the Port of Belize

Also this morning, the Prime Minister was asked about the nationalization of the Port which he said on Wednesday was under consideration.  According to him, that is not on the table at this time.  As far as we know, a meeting was held on Thursday with the Prime Minister and Ministers Edmund Castro, Carla Barnett and Mark Espat. Coming out of that meeting, the PM was advised that nationalization was not the best option going into the elections.  But there is also information that he sought legal advice on whether the government can use emergency powers or at any other option to take the port. This morning, Barrow also referred to a letter sent to him on Thursday in which Waterloo Investment asks to sit around the table if the government were to take over the port to avoid the high costs of litigation. 


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“And when this man starts to talk about if we were to do anything about the port, Waterloo Investment Holdings Ltd. is a company on the Bermuda stock exchange and the owner of both British Caribbean Bank Ltd. and Private Investment Ltd., the primary debt holders and creditors in the receivership of Port of Belize Ltd. and warn us that the nationalization of the Port of Belize Ltd. would give rise to a claim under the UK/Belize Bilateral Investment Treaty.  But they don’t own the port, so what are they going to claim, that we have deprived them of the ownership of something that they don’t own?  If it turns out to be that way then we need not talk in the immediate future about any question of nationalization, but I assure you, we would be maintaining and extremely active watching brief and if there were to be additional ruptures which would act as evidence of the fact that this thing ultimately is going to hold, then all options would be back on the table.”


So the Prime Minister has been dissuaded not to go down the road of nationalization of the port.  Lord Ashcroft’s letter recounted the cost to Belize of previous cases, including Belize Telemedia Limited, for which the people ended up paying in excess of five hundred and eighty million dollars and legal costs after nine long years of battles in court.  In the case of U.H.S., the original liability of two million dollars ballooned to more than ninety million.  And the nationalization of the I.B.C. and Shipping Registries is also to lead to more damages award against the government.

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