Minister Espat comments on Portico project
Minister Julius Espat also gave his views on the Portico project and all that has transpired.
Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South: “I wasn’t a part of the cabinet meeting. I was aware of the document. I did not also receive or I did not see any of the legal opinions. When I reviewed the document it’s the worst document I have ever seen. It is morally wrong, it is ethically wrong, and from what I am hearing it can even be legally wrong. It’s disgusting I would put it that way. Now what does the government do? That’s more the Ministry of Finance’s turf, if you want to call it. I don’t interfere too much. But we are doing a disservice to Belize, I believe, that we did not define a cruise ship policy from the day we were elected. That has been my stance from day one. If we would have had a cruise ship policy from day one we would not be in this situation right now and we have to have one. And now it will be scrutinized because you’re doing it after the fact and so it becomes more difficult to do. I just hope for the benefit of Belize that we do a proper one and not defined for a specific project but it has to be defined in such a way that it is fair and fair to investors. If you don’t define what you want then a million people will come to tell you what they want. So what do we want? I’ve heard that we want 80% overnight tourism, 20% tourism. Then define it. What is 20%? Does 20% tell you that you have maybe a million passengers in the central zone? Then fine. Then you analyze your economical way of looking at it. Can two cruise ship terminals function with a million passengers economically? Will it be feasible? If it’s not, then why are we fooling ourselves? Those are the hard decisions that we should have made from day one and we didn’t and I blame myself as part of cabinet for not lobbying enough for that to happen. But we are here now. It’s a good thing though. It’s been ventilated. Some people beef it up a little bit more than others, but it’s been ventilated and I think that’s healthy for democracy.”