P.M. hopes new legislation will solve cruise impasse
Saturday, June 27, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: Cruise developer Michael Feinstein is suing the Government of Belize and Fort Street Tourism Village over certain provisions in the amended agreement between the latter two that purport to offer security to the Village in both revenue from the head tax collected on passengers by the Belize Tourism Board and exclusive rights over passage of tourists from the development on Stake Bank and North Drowned Cayes to the Village at Fort Point in Belize City.
During Friday’s meeting of the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Dean Barrow introduced and successfully passed a Cruise Ship Passenger Tax and Validation Bill aimed to validate the head tax, which Feinstein argues is being illegally collected by the BTB since only the Government has the power to tax.
The Prime Minister says the new legislation is intended to correct that problem, but the other matters he expects to play out in court and hopefully relieve Government of any financial liabilities to FSTV, which has made an ancillary claim against them concerning head tax proceeds.
Government’s options are more open, says Barrow, if Supreme Court Justice Courtney Abel rules that the contract’s provisions on exclusivity are invalid and unenforceable, which would help Stake Bank move forward. The case continues.
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