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Former PM Barrow says it’s time for GOB to nationalize the Port

In the run-up to the 2020 elections, the fight between the Christian Workers’ Union and the Port of Belize was heightened. Former Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that because of how difficult the circumstances were, his government was prepared to begin nationalizing the port. 

Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister of Belize: “I think it certainly should. Now, of course, there’s always a question of how you’re going to pay for it. But, I think it certainly should. I don’t think the port should have been given up from the start and again, they want to talk about what happened in the past. That’s what they must talk about. They were the ones that gave up the port. They were the ones that gave up the port. So, the time. You see, the notion. Remember, it was always part of the sort of neoliberal, the Washington consensus, neoliberal orthodoxy that, no, the private sector, all these things are to be run by the private sector. Well, that doctrine, that dogma, is no longer to be unquestioningly adhered to if it ever was.” 

Asked whether the Government of PM Briceno should follow through with nationalization, Barrow said that he would support it even though he’s not sure how the government could pay the receivers. 

Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister of Belize: “We took back BTL and BTL, I don’t know about now, but after we took back BTL, BTL was very well run. We made a success of BTL. Again, why was BTL privatized? Because the PUP back then believed in the neoliberal dogma, believed in the Washington consensus and thought, there were other reasons less, having nothing to do with ideology and having to do, in my view, with corruption but in any event, they thought BTL should be put into private hands. Well, we took it back. It cost us there but we made a go of it. In fact I think it was a shining example of how Belizean ownership of a utility could, in fact, prove to be a matter of great advantage, could showcase the skills and talents of Belizeans. It must be, whatever might have been the thinking when the port was first sold off by the then Government which is now once more in power, whatever the thinking might have been then, this may well be the time for there to be a rethink and I certainly would support the nationalization of the port. As I understand it, the owners of the port are perfectly prepared to sell, to sell back to Government. It’s just a matter of agreeing on the terms and I repeat, I would certainly absolutely be in support of that course of action.” 

If such a nationalization were to take place, it may cost Government many millions of dollars.