Belize Business Bureau calls for government intervention to resolve Port of Belize Limited dispute.
And, while the loggerhead between the CWU and PBL has yet to impact the business sector, the President of the Belize Business Bureau, Arturo Lizarraga, is sounding the alarm. The BBB says it is not siding with any parties but believes that government intervention is needed to amicably resolve the issue. The volatile situation concerns the business community, according to Lizarraga, who says a bigger issue is plaguing the port.
Arturo Lizarraga, President, Belize Business Bureau: “Port costs are high. In fact you have seen where the sugar has gone south because of the high costs and one of the high costs is the work gangs. And one of the problems we have is the modernization or the lack of modernization that includes the workers. Because they will be losing some of the positions they have but they will be creating new ones and so I think that that adjustment has to happen for us to get around it. But I think the more fundamental problem that the port has is the whole concept of receivership. How long is the receivership? When a bank takes your property, what determines their ability to extract a profit for so long and not involve or not return the property back or settle the debt and they got the conclusion. For example how did the bank end up being the property holder of this very essential asset? For that reason we have proposed to government four main reforms that we want to have in legislation within the next year and these legislations we will create them primarily to have asset accumulation. The basis of economic growth is based on asset accumulation that allows you to be more productive, it allows you to be – you can expand and create markets. I say all this in the context of what is transpiring at the port. If we would have the proper reorganization then we’d be able to deal with it more effectively and then we wouldn’t be ending up with this kind of bottleneck. But I honestly believe that the authorities, the government need to come in along with the parties because it’s a cost to the consumer whenever somebody cannot unload or when somebody cannot pick up and you still have to address the long-term problem that we’ve had which is the port costs being too high. So there are different- and I think those are the fundamental problems there are other issues in terms of the agreement and who promised what and how you know but I think that is the fundamental problem and the quicker we resolve it the better for us because we can’t have Belize gain the recognition for being not just a high cost port but a very dicey port you know? Whether you’re not sure if they will accept the ship or not you know that’s kind of ridiculous to have.”