Former Port CEO Appointed Interim Head as Government Takes Over Belize Port Operations
The government has appointed former Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Belize Arturo Vasquez as its Interim CEO and is establishing a company to oversee operations at the port. Next week, GOB is taking over the day-to-day running of the port after securing the necessary framework for its acquisition. The move included settling multiple lawsuits with the Ashcroft alliance and acquiring several acres of sounding land for just under 200 million Belize dollars. Prime Minister John Briceno says GOB was able to purchase all the alliance’s shares in the port and is finalizing its takeover.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “We bought over what Waterloo owned and I think there are a few small shareholders but it’s a very small. Whilst we respect their investment it’s very small. It’s I don’t know probably 1 or 2% if that much I’ve not gotten the number. So what we did is that we bought over all of Waterloo owned so now that goes into the hands of the Government and the people of Belize. But we’re setting up a company Port of Belize that will manage the Port of Belize. But what we have done is that we have set up an interim board. An interim board is simple one that sits as we call for the time being to quickly put somebody in there. So we’ve asked Gilly Canton everybody knows Gilly Canton a man of great wealth of experience, a man that is highly regarded and respected within the business community and even in his community where people deal with him in sports, in horse racing for instance. And then we tried to get a quick cross section you know like Carlton Young that represent the shippers, we’re asking Senator Smith not necessarily to represent the unions but to represent labour and that’s the difference. And so we got this young lady Leidi Urbina, highly qualified young lady and very highly educated that can come in and to give us a different perspective and so the idea is for them to come in quickly and I’m hoping that by next week Monday/Tuesday they’re going to meet. Presently the chairman and the interim CEO Tuck Vasquez who worked there for many years who already knows what’s going on they will be going in some time today or tomorrow to sort of take a first hand look at what they find and then have a meeting with the board, say what they have and then take it from there.”
PM Briceno also touched on the reported profits of the port, which were said to be around 18 million dollars, and says that while he respects the CWU, they are not able to dictate who sits on the board.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “This was a 60 day negotiation so it was not an overnight. It was a long, arduous negotiation and I must commend both sides. Both the Ashcroft Alliance or the consortium and government negotiators that wanted to find a solution to the issue of the port. And a part of the negotiations were that they had to provide their financials that they have had before. Now these are unaudited financials but based on the financials that have been presented to us they’re showing that they’ve been making an income between twelve and thirteen million dollars. I have not seen it but this is the report that I’ve been given. The stevedores are employees of the port. That is a decision that we make and Mr.Vasquez has told me he has always had a good working relationship with the stevedores that is one of the reasons why he was removed when he was the CEO but let’s not speculate. Let’s not speculate we can be back and forth. The position is that the government has decided that we believe that this is the person that can come in and to help us.