By Aaron Humes: Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) have consistently called for a cruise port in Belize City to help Belizeans obtain jobs.
But today it is calling out the Government for seeming to change its stance from its Opposition days on the Luke Espat-planned cruise port in Port Loyola underwritten by Carnival Cruise Lines.
Government has not begun negotiations with Ports Investments Limited, the body backing the project, but in a press release COLA says it will not support such a project unless and until the Government answers two questions: why it seems to have changed its tune and what role Lord Michael Ashcroft has to play in the scheme.
For the former, COLA cites as evidence statements made by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Collet and Port Loyola area reps Patrick Faber and Anthony Boots Martinez respectively in 2004, when the contract was first signed and then re-negotiated, and in 2006 when the environmental impact assessment for the project was unveiled.
Then-Leader of the Opposition Barrow was on record as citing the number of laws the contract asks the Government to violate; Martinez questioned the commitment of Carnival and Espat to jobs for Belizeans and the volume of tourists visiting, and Faber cited environmental impact in a low-lying area.
It asks the parliamentarians, quote, If this project was so vile then, what has made it so right now? End quote.
For the latter question, COLA cites the seeming dislike Ashcroft had for the Government and vice versa over the nationalizations of BTL and BEL, which were settled in principle last year.
Without an answer to these questions, COLA concludes, quote, Belizeans must be wary of this “puss eena bag” approach to an industry that needs structured development and wise decision-making. End quote.
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