The Stake Bank Cruise Tourism Project - we haven't heard of it for a while, and indeed its gone on the back burner ever since Government gave developer Mike Feinstein the red light. But it came back up in the House Debates, with a few PUP members calling on government to re-activate the plan. When the Tourism Minister responded, he made it clear that Stake Bank and Mike Feinstein are not favorably viewed by the Barrow administration:...
Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism
"The same PUP - you can recall the old customs area, that practically they gave it away to some cronies and friends over there to create what is today the Fort Street Village and they created the law that Fort Street will collect the head tax from those boats and today the same member that sold to the Royal Caribbean, he wants to be getting a portion of that same head tax. So we ask him he can solve the problem with Royal Caribbean and have him come on board, then we will willingly work with him and on the other side, member of the opposition, he also wants a sovereign guarantee which this is not the PUP, this is a UDP administration. We will never, and the Prime Minister said, issued a sovereign guarantee to a developer. We didn't do it for NCL, we didn't do it for Royal Caribbean and we will not do it for anyone."
Well, the Feinstein group heard him loud and clear today and it issued an angry release, quoting developer Mike Feinstein saying, quote,
"If the Stake bank project was properly supported by the UDP it would have been completed years ago, the passenger count would have tripled by now and the per person spending would average $140 bze x 3 million passengers. This would bring annually $420, million into Belize's economyâ€¦
It adds that "The Belize Tourism Village was sold for one reason only, to build Stake Bank. Royal Caribbean & Diamonds International jointly purchased the village, and in doing so signed an agreement not objecting to the Stake Bank project. The port of Belize and Carnival also signed the same agreement. FSTV, formerly The Belize Tourism Village, believed that they had exclusivity on head tax and port of entry. I took this to court and proved that FSTV does not have exclusivity on anything. The government is looking in the wrong direction from whom to expect a lawsuit."
I believed the Prime Minister when he assured me that all he needed was the judge to pass the decision in our favor to move the project forward. However, I walked away when I learned that the PM was negotiating with Ashcroft on the Port Loyola cruise project. My legal council agrees there is nothing more to stop the Stake Bank project. I feel the government is obviously not Belizean first, so Mr. Heredia, my advice to you is to get the facts before speaking on something you know nothing about." End quote. It adds, quote, "Let me also clarify I have never asked this government for a sovereign guarantee, in fact it is Royal Caribbean that asked for it. The government has this economy in such a violent tail-spin, and its credit rating is so low that a sovereign guarantee would not be worth the paper it is written on." End quote.