Placencia BTIA still opposed to Harvest Caye project

BTIAHarvest CayeFormer journalist and resort developer Stewart Krohn has become one of the harshest critics of the proposed development at Harvest Caye in the Stann Creek District. He has attacked the proposed split of head tax payments in favour of Norwegian as “crack-head economics” and slammed the Government for agreeing to the plan in spite of the dictates of the Sustainable Tourism Master Plan. PLUS News sought out Mr Krohn’s views Thursday on the now revealed memorandum of understanding between Norwegian and GOB – and for the most part, they have not changed. Mr Krohn still believes the Government sold out and did not think it through. While he was quick to make clear he does not speak on behalf of the national Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), his views, he believes, are widely held and more convincing than those of the Government. On the issue of environmental compliance, which Norwegian’s Colin Murphy immediately sought to clarify at yesterday’s press briefing, Stewart Krohn derided their arguments as “green-washing,” which he defines for us here.

Stewart Khron – BTIA, President, Placencia:

vlcsnap-2013-08-16-09h59m29s155There is a term that has been used for a couple of years called “green-washing”.  It’s like white-washing, only “green-washing” means that you try to make something that is not environmentally sustainable, look like it’s environmentally sustainable, but it’s just painting something green.  I would say what NCL is proposing for Harvest Caye is probably the ultimate “green-washing”.  I have been on cruises, and I’ve talked to hundreds of people who’ve been on cruises.  Private islands for cruise ships are about getting people to splash around in the water, and drink as much of NCL liquor as they can possibly consume, and ride around on NCL’s jet skies as much as they can, and do whatever NCL can get them to do to make money.  If they could call it green, they could call it purple, they could call it brown, but a cruise ship is a cruise ship is a cruise ship, and if you think that the four thousand two hundred people that are going to come on that cruise ship to Harvest Caye are somehow tree-hugging environmentalists, well ther’s another island I’d like to sell you.

Mr Krohn revisited his “crackhead” analogy when asked about the proposed revision of the head tax once every five years for the duration of the 25 year concession.

Stewart Khron – BTIA, President, Placencia:

vlcsnap-2013-08-16-10h08m46s78All I can say is that I hate to bring back this crack-head analogy , but I know crack-heads on the streets of Belize City who are better negotiators than the people who negotiated this agreement. To say that you are now limiting yourself, you will only review, doesn’t mean raise, the head tax once every five years.  Do you think the Income Tax or the GST department can make a commitment to review the GST only once every five years? This is insanity and then after five years and they somehow summon the courage to raise it by $1.00, which is the limit to which they will raise it, out of the $1.00 then $0.50 is going to go to NCL? This is the ultimate crack-head MOU.

Stweart Krohn believes enough Belizeans in loud voice can overturn the project, and says that the final product presented yesterday still does not do enough for Belizeans.

Stewart Khron – BTIA, President, Placencia:

vlcsnap-2013-08-16-10h29m59s24The final document is horrible, but trust me, if we had not intervened, it would have been a lot worse that it is now. But one part of this final MOU talks about 25% of jobs reserved for foreigners.  25%, in and of itself, is a ridiculous figure.  I don’t know what jobs the 25% of these so called… I don’t know if it’s eighteen hundred jobs, twelve hundred jobs, a thousand jobs.  Every time Mr Murphy opens his mouth it’s a different member.  I would really like to see him list what jobs there are.  When you talk about 25% of jobs for foreigners, think about it in terms of the payroll, not in numbers of jobs.  Those 25% that they will reserve for foreigners, these aren’t the $40 a day jobs. These are that $400 a day jobs.   So that 25% figure is really about 85 or 90% of the actual payroll.  So don’t think of it as 25% of the jobs are going to foreigners, no, 85 or 90% of the labour payroll of NCL is going right out the country to foreigners.

The national BTIA has yet to respond.

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