Cruise Ship Passenger Tax and validation bill goes through the House of Representatives

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Updated: June 28, 2015

The Cruise Ship Passenger Tax and Validation Bill also went through its three readings. At the moment, Michael Feinstein, is currently in a legal battle against the Government of Belize, the Belize Tourism Board and Fort Street Tourism Village and for the most part of it, it has to do with the collection of head tax which this bill will affect. The Bill seeks to levy, charge, and collect a tax on each manifest cruise ship passenger to FSTV. Prime Minister Dean Barrow explained what that means for the ongoing court case.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“That is the leader of the opposition and it appears now we are in danger of having to extend it to the entire party, but coming back to the head tax, there are some amendments that were moved, nothing of any substance. What it does is that it ensures that there can be no disruption in terms of the cruise industry. If Mr. Feinstein succeeded in getting a court adjudication that that head tax is invalid, until we could have corrected that we couldn’t pay FSTV and they would no doubt close the village so we wanted to avoid that and once this passes we’ll achieve that result but that’s not the end of the case. A part from the question of wanting to have the collection of the head tax declared illegal as I understand it, Mr. Feinstein is also arguing that the entire contract between the Government of Belize and FSTV is illegal and that in fact we do want to see play out and quite frankly I don’t want to appear to be looking to take on FSTV but if the court rules in favor of Mr. Feinstein that would certainly allow us to see our way far more clearly.”

Reporter

“And in fact it’s not a contract that…

Prime Minster Dean Barrow

“That I signed..”

Reporter

“So if it were to fall by the way side”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

A brand new ball game we would then feel that we could say to FSTV, listen we are going to find a way to proceed with the construction of the new facility what’s holding us back now is their contractual exclusivity. So if the court says no that has to go then the options available to the government become far more wide ranging. There is still the question of whether Mr. Feinstein can raise the money to do all that we feel to be done but as things now stand we are not even pressing him to convince of that because we don’t think that we can move right at the moment, our efforts to bring himself and FSTV having failed.”

The case continues before Justice Courtenay Abel.