And while the news of the day was the national bank – the media had a laundry list of issues to question the Prime Minister about. First up was Norwegian Cruise Line. On Friday, the members of FECTAB told us after meeting with the PM that a new Memorandum of Understanding was being prepared. The PM today told the press it is not a new MOU, but a final contract, which will be taken to the House of Representatives.

Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"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."

Jules Vasquez
"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."

Jules Vasquez
"Well it is a very fundamental change because they said that they will only use 150 days of the year leaving 215 days open for other lines to use it."

Hon. 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 we 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 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."

Reporter
"Sir, so in effect, the Barrow administration is straying away from the national Sustainable Tourism Master Plan in terms of allowing mass tourism down south - shouldn't that be concerning to the public down there?"

Hon. Dean Barrow
"Some concerns alter cases, except Noweigan when it comes to doing the legally binding agreement - besides not the play ball, in terms of our non-negotiable conditions; this thing is on so if there are still people with reservations - get over it."

Strong words, but that moving on is contingent on the approval of an environmental review. As we have reported, the environmental clearance for Harvest Caye relies partly upon an existing EIA for a resort which had been planned for Harvest Caye. Some have said this is illegal, but the PM says, they’re going by the book:…

Jules Vasquez
"Is it legal that they can piggyback on an existing EIA?"

Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"Let's be very careful here - how do you mean piggybacking? As I understand it, aspects of this project that were going to be covered as well by the previous project for which an EIA was approved. There's no need to go back over those but I would imagine (I don't know the percentage - the apportionment) but perhaps 40% of what is happening now will be new, Very clearly that 40% has to be subject to its own EIA. I really don't see that there is the kind of problem that you appear to see; we will do this thing by the book. Those in charge of the approval process must be free to do their assessment conscientiously, the question of public consultations and all that are features of the EIA process must in fact be followed and incorporated. So at the end, those that don't like the project will at least - if they are fair - have to concede that we followed the procedure properly."

Norwegian says they will drive 25 piles to support their floating pier.

Channel 7


Government goes full steam ahead with NCL Project

The memorandum of understanding between the government of Belize and Norwegian Cruise Lines is a done deal, and the parties are not allowing any grass to grow under their feet. M.O.U.s are not legally binding, but contracts are, and one is very much in the works. Despite much opposition to and many concerns about the mega-million dollar cruise tourism destination planned for the south, Prime Minister Dean Barrow says that a few minor details aside, the project has gotten the green light. Two of those minor details which somehow got lost in the negotiations and in the M.O.U. are the exclusive use of the destination by N.C.L. and the diversion of other cruise lines to the south. Whether that was a miscommunication, a misunderstanding or a typo – the P.M. says that G.O.B. is not inclined to budge. But with that said – if you have a problem with the project, you’re just going to have to get over it. 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“There’s to be no diversion of the current Belize City cause, and there’s 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 into the MOU. But I’m saying, and I’m putting Norwegian on notice, and it’s not like I’m taking them by surprise because this was our position throughout. The binding agreement will make that absolutely clear. We are concerned…we want this project, but we are concerned about overuse, we are concerned about overcrowding. So that is why…Norwegian wanted two berthing facilities you know…two docks to bring two ships and we said no. Even the one hundred and fifty days a year multiplied by the number of visitors that they will bring I think puts us close to what we believe at this juncture is the acceptable limit. So while I don’t want to slam the door completely shut, as of now I would repeat my position that when we get into the formal binding agreement we would stick to the position which is that it is used by you, Norwegian, and nobody else. And if that’s one hundred and fifty days a year, then so be it and in fact that might be for the best in terms of not wanting as I said to get into a situation where there is overuse.”

Reporter

“So sir, in effect the Barrow administration is straying away from the National sustainable Tourism Master Plan in terms of allowing mass tourism down South. Shouldn’t that be concerning to the public out there?”

Dean Barrow

“Circumstances alter cases. Minister Hulse already answered that question when you asked it and when Adele asked it. Why are we going over old ground? Except Norwegian, when it comes to doing the legally binding agreement, decides not to play ball in terms of our non-negotiable conditions…this thing is on. So if there are still people with reservations…get over it.”

Channel 5