Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2020. 2:45 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: As the impasse between the Port of Belize Limited (PBL) and its staff continues to have a strenuous effect on Belize’s economy, Prime Minister Dean Barrow says that the Government of Belize has contemplated nationalizing the port as a means to bring the situation to an end.
Speaking at a virtual press conference today, Barrow said that the current state of affairs between the PBL and its staff, particularly those who are members of the Christian Workers Union (CWU) which sees ships being unable to unload cargo and companies unable to do business, puts GOB in a position where it must, at least consider, nationalization, though that decision has not been finalized.
“The chokehold, the stranglehold, that is being exercised on the economy of this country, on the wellbeing of the citizenry of this country is not something that any government can contemplate with any kind of indifference, it is a spur to action…the nature of the action has yet to be determined,” Barrow said.
He noted that the economic impact of the impasse has put further strain on the country’s foreign exchange reserves, which is already in a difficult position due to the dramatic reduction of foreign exchange inflows from multiple areas including the tourism sector. Barrow said that the Ministry of Labour is working tirelessly to bring the CWU and the PBL to the negotiating table, in an effort to make sure that all efforts to get the parties to come to an amicable agreement are exhausted.
“If that proves simply to be impossible Government must reserve the right to do what it has to do to protect commerce, to protect the lifeblood of the country, to protect the citizens of this country,” Barrow added.
The CWU and the PBL have been a major topic of discussion nationally over the past few weeks, with an explosive display last week which ended with police shooting CWU members with rubber bullets and throwing tear gas at them. Both parties firing several pointed press releases since then, each stressing that the other is at fault for the current state of affairs which continuously disrupts normal business at the port.
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