By Aaron Humes: The announcement of a special meeting of the House of Representatives on Monday in Belmopan and Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s comments this week on possibly nationalizing the Port of Belize Limited as a solution to the impasse has stirred Lord Michael Ashcroft to step forward.
Ashcroft wrote to the Prime Minister today to head off a takeover of the Port in receivership under his Waterloo Investment Holdings Limited (the holding company of both British Caribbean Bank and Private Investment Limited).
Ashcroft proposes cooperation on framing legislation for the nationalization of the Port for a public purpose, if that is how Government intends to proceed, such that there would not be a drawn-out process of litigation and excessive repayment as happened with his other concerns: Belize Telemedia Limited, the Companies Registries and the Belize Bank’s debt for Universal Health Services, among others.
Under the Belize-UK Bilateral Investment Treaty, a potential claim for arbitration would cost US$85 million (BZ$ 170 million) before accumulated interest, Ashcroft said.
Ashcroft also proposes to withdraw the planned US $200 million cruise port and port expansion project which he said would have generated significant investment and jobs for one of the poorest areas of the City.
He also condemned the “illegal strike action” by the stevedores which has shut down the port and called it incredible that the Ministry of Labour had not intervened to keep these essential workers on the job.
The letter is copied, with one eye on the upcoming General Election, to Barrow’s successor Patrick Faber and Opposition Leader John Briceno.
We will have the Prime Minister’s response, if any, after his press conference on Friday in Belize City to launch the Economic Recovery Strategy and Plan.