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Dec 4, 2023

Still No Legislation to Replace Flawed Definitive Agreement

Prime Minister John Briceño

A senate inquiry into the Definitive Agreement that was granted to Portico Enterprises Limited by the outgoing Barrow administration in October 2020 begins on Tuesday inside the Assembly Building.  While that document has since been discarded by Prime Minister John Briceño, it is yet to be replaced by legislation that empowers cruise tourism stakeholders to invest in the construction of another port of call in the Belize District harbor.  PM Briceño discussed the now rubbished Definitive Agreement, as well as the pending legislation.

 

Prime Minister John Briceño

“It’s important to point out that our government had nothing to do with the Definitive Agreement and so, you know, it frustrates me when you all in the media were trying to create or we did something wrong.  We didn’t, we didn’t do anything and when we, even the people behind the senate inquiry are trying to drag us into this Definitive Agreement.  All we did was take it to Cabinet and after fifteen days I said no, that’s it, put it back, tore it up, we have to start over.  So there’s nothing we can answer about it, we don’t know.  So what’s next?  There has to be some agreement to provide the necessary legislative framework to encourage the building of a cruise port that now is going close to three hundred million U.S. dollars, and we have a group of local investors that obviously they don’t have the funding, that have been out there marketing this project and now it seems that Royal Caribbean has expressed serious interest in investing in this project.  Now with the issue or the controversy of the Definitive Agreement, they pulled back to say, “Well, we can’t touch this.  This is what’s happening in Belize.”  And that was why it was important for us to say, “Let’s rewind, tear up, and let’s start again.”  So we have been working on a new piece of legislation.  It has not gone to Cabinet because we are not there yet.  Why?  Well, the last time in October when I was in Miami and the Minister of Tourism and Diaspora [Relations] Anthony Mahler arranged for us to meet with Royal Caribbean and all the other stakeholders.  And so, Royal Caribbean was saying well okay, we need probably the next ninety days for us to be able to come and say, okay, this… we’re prepared now and these are going to be our investors, these are some of the conditions that we need to be able to make this investment work for us.”


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