PM Briceno gives his take on Port of Magical Definitive Agreement
Prime Minister Briceno landed at the Philip Goldson International Airport this morning just before eleven o’clock. He was greeted with eager reporters wanting to get his take on the Port of Magical Definitive Agreement. On Friday, we told you the 30-page document that was leaked, and that listed never before seen accommodations for Portico Enterprises Limited. The list and the agreement, on a whole, has been described as obscene and outrageous. Yet, it somehow made its way as a Cabinet paper on May 17. Prime Minister Briceno was asked to weigh in on the document, but there wasn’t much he was willing to answer; only to say that the agreement will be renegotiated.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “ I want to make this very clear, I am very disappointed that this paper was leaked out. As you all know when we were appointed to the cabinet we signed an oath of confidentiality that what is discussed in cabinet should remain there because then that gives this allows ministers to be able to speak their minds freely. The paper came to cabinet, the Minister of Tourism Anthony Mahler then started to raise some concerns rightly so, and then other ministers started to raise some issues. When I started to look at the issues that were being raised then I said that we are going to pull back this paper and that it has to be redone. I want to finish with this, that whenever we finish those redoing that paper whatever we take to the National Assembly, because it’ll be taken as part of a piece of its own legislation like what we did with Stake Bank, what we did with Harvest Caye, it would be no better no worse than what Harvest Caye got and Stake Bank. So that much, there’s nothing more else to add to it I’ve answered you.”
Reporter: Sir but how did the paper even make it to Cabinet given all the accommodations ?
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Listen, can I repeat again? Papers are prepared, they go to cabinet and then we discuss. I can’t speak more about what’s going on in Cabinet, so that where that end when it goes to the House then we can have a full discussion as to what’s going to happen. What I can assure you right now that whatever that what the UDP signed under the definitive agreement, that will not fly. We are going to be redoing it and I repeat once more that what goes to the House, to the National Assembly will be no better nor no worse than what Stake Bank and Harvest Caye got.”
Reporter: Sir the former PM says that this document has no legal footing. What’s your take on that ? He’s saying that no one minister could have guaranteed such accommodations.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “I will not get into a back and forth with the former Prime Minister of Belize.”
Prime Minister Briceno further spoke on the legislation that would be needed to allow the concessions for Port of Magical. He was also asked on whether Erwin Contreras and Royal Caribbean should be investigated.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Let me finish first in settling the legislation that will give the necessary development concessions to Port Magical or Portico and once we do that then we will do whatever investigations that have to be done we will do an investigation and if there was any corrupt act under the previous government then we will act on it.”
Reporter: The Former Auditor General says that he believes Port of Magical and I believe the other company should be investigated as well. Do you share that same sentiment ?
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Royal Caribbean has nothing to do with that. Royal Caribbean just stepped in now. They see that this is a good investment and so they have decided that they want to invest and – “
Reporter: Good investment based on the
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “They believe that Belize has one of the best places to put a cruise port why? Because this is one place where you have a lot of of the visitors want to get off the ship because the diversity is incredible in Belize. From snorkeling to fishing to kayaking to scuba diving to zip lining , you have the archaeological sites so we have all of that. So the cruise lines they want to see a port being built in Belize. When they met with Portico, and I met with two of the vice presidents of Royal Caribbean they came to Belize and said after they looked at the three projects they believe this is the best project and they’re prepared to invest.”
Reporter: What was your reaction when you read the agreement ?
We will keep following up on this story as it develops.