Speaking with Prime Minister Barrow on Monday, he also divulged on the latest dealings regarding the Harvest Caye port construction project between Government and Norwegian Cruise Line. The last time we met with the PM, he noted that while there was an MOU in place, both parties were also drafting a more binding contract. The specific points in that contract haven’t been made public as yet, but he did make note of one clause that will be included.
It’s a misnomer to call it MOU. We’re moving to a point where there is going to be a legally binding contract, and I have promised that some of the things that either weren’t clear or that NCL apparently didn’t understand in the MOU will be reflected in the legally binding contract.
And that is principally the issue of ships migrating south?
Hon. Dean Barrow
Yes, in two ways; there is to be no diversion of the current Belize City calls and there is to be no use of that port by ships other than NCL ships. When I went back I didn’t see that in the MOU; we had made that clear in Cabinet, I don’t know how it didn’t find its way in the MOU but I am saying, I am putting them on notice and it’s not that I am taking them by surprise because this was our position throughout; the binding agreement will make that absolutely clear.
It has been reported that NCL intends to employ the port for only 150 days per year, leaving the port vacant for some 215 days. In that case would other companies be given permission to dock at Harvest Caye? There is a slight possibility.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow:
Well, we were quite clear that that thing is for the exclusive use of Norwegian Cruise Lines. Now, if they come and say, ‘fine, that’s the starting point’ but indeed if we can’t use it all year round and there are other lines, again that would not be coming to Belize City in that period that want to use it, we can look at it but I am not sure that we are going to depart from our position because we took well into consideration the fact that they would not be using it all year round. We’re concerned, we want this project but we are concerned about over use, we are concerned about overcrowding. So, that is why Norwegian wanted two berthing facilities, two docks, to bring two ships and we said no. While I don’t want to slam the door completely shut, as of now, I will repeat my position that when we get into the formal agreement, we will stick to the position which is that it is used by Norwegian and nobody else, and if that’s 150 days per year, so be it and in fact, that might be for the best in terms of not wanting to get into a situation where there is overuse.