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Jul 5, 2012

Luke out of the Port of Belize and into the Court

Denys Barrow

Government attorneys were busy today as a business and an environmental group saw their cases held against the administration in separate courtrooms. Port of Belize Limited and its majority shareholder Belize Ports Limited, which were owned by businessman Luke Espat, both went into receivership and are now under the control of receiver, Arturo “Tux” Vasquez. But there is an unfinished legal battle between the companies and the government, which came up in court today before Justice Minnet Hafiz Bertram. Back on September eleventh 2007, Espat filed a lawsuit against G.O.B. for breaching agreements and putting their investment at risk. There are five agreements that were allegedly breached: the share sale agreement from March 2002; an investment agreement signed with B.P.L., Carnival Corporation and the Belize Cruise Terminal Limited, on April twenty-ninth, 2004; a privatization cooperation agreement from December 2005; a license dated January 2002 and a lease of the same date. The claims include that government failed to provide tax and duty exemptions; the lease for the Commerce Bight Port has not been converted to a freehold title, and that the government has not enacted legislation for a free zone in the Port Loyola area; all of which were in the aforementioned agreements. So, the Port of Belize and Belize Ports are seeking declarations of breach and claiming an unspecified amount in damages.


Denys Barrow, Attorney for Government

“The breaches are essentially claiming that the government did not do certain things which the government had promised to do; principally that the government did not pass legislation to enable certain things to take place; most specifically, to collect monies from users of the Port to grant duty or port—to grant exemptions in relation to taxes etcetera, to give free hold title to the Commerce Bight Port and that sort of thing.  The government does not accept that legislation should have been passed in many instances and in relation to other instances, even if it was contemplated that legislation should have been passed, the reality is that the then prime minister and then minister of budget planning had absolutely no entitlement to say to anybody that the National Assembly will pass any law. The passing of laws is not a matter for the executive, it’s not a matter that a minister can promise to do, it is something which the National Assembly decides to do and that’s the separation of powers and the difference between the executive, which is the government and the legislature, which is the National Assembly. It’s the same way that the government cannot promise that a court would pass a judgment because what judgments are passed by the court is a matter for the judiciary so that’s where we are.”


Delahnie Bain

“So is that the basis of your defense?”


Denys Barrow

“That is largely the basis of our defense. In addition, we’re saying that many of the things which were complained of are in fact promises that were made in a very generalized form and they are what you would call imperfect contracts, which is to say that what precisely is now said ought to have been done was not precisely agreed to be done. So one side might be saying certain things should have been done and the other side is saying, but hold on I never promised to do any of those things. So that really in a nutshell is the defense.”


While he initiated the lawsuit, Luke Espat was not present in court today.

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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4 Responses for “Luke out of the Port of Belize and into the Court”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    Now Denys, do you really believe your own convoluted nonsense? A man like you!! Whether you are aPUP or UDP ( that’s how the justice system works in Belize, and I am sorry for you if you are an outsider-you will pay through your nose), the then PM made an expressed agreement, a contract to do certain things which weren’t done. The aggrieved party acted on that agreement to his detriment, so he must be indemnified. Whether you love him or hate him, Luke Espat did well for his country by creating jobs and assisted in growth of Belize GDP. Admittedly, there is a bit of glee to see your enemy stumble, but the law and justice must prevail!!!

  2. Storm says:

    Competition is good for an economy. Private monopolies are inherently anti-competition and are bad in almost every case. I think it was wrong to give any private party control of the ports, and that Espat in particular has done a terrible job of it.

    Let’s take back control of the ports, and hire someone — Belizean or foreign, I don’t care, as long as the person is experienced, successful, and competent at the job — to take over for the government. We have certainly lost tourism due to port mismanagement — many cruise ships go elsewhere rather than deal with the chaos in the Jewel. And I believe we have lost some cargo business, too, in favour of trucking.

  3. Tarasbulba says:

    Unu cud seh weh unu want, at dih end a dih day, dih Ports dem wah be fih Barrows dem soon. Just fala dih whole ting fram beginning to dih end!!!

  4. bzean says:

    The ports of Belize should never be put in private hands, that is a form of revenue for the government. I remember Fonseca/Musa were just selling off everything the government owned or had majority shares in to their PUP cronies. Nevertheless, wether you’re a PUP/UDP I believe that all essential services is the responsibility of the government and should remain that way.

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