The Prime Minister also spoke at length about the two paged letter from Lord Michael Ashcroft. In the letter, Ashcroft pointed out that previous attempts at nationalization of other companies, such as Belize Telemedia Limited and the Companies Registries, has ended in excessive repayment by the government as well as excessive debt. As such, he proposed cooperation on the framing legislation for nationalizing PBL. He noted, however, that nationalizing PBL would give rise to a claim under the UK-Belize Bilateral Investment Treaty. While they could agree to the arbitration of the claim, it would cost eight five million US dollars, before accumulated interest. Additionally, nationalizing the Port would mean that the plan for the two hundred million US dollar port expansion project would no longer take place, which, according to Ashcroft, would be a devastating loss for the entire country. In the letter, Ashcroft also briefly mentions that Waterloo Holdings Limited is the owner of both British Caribbean Bank Limited and Private Investment Limited, which are the primary debt holders and creditors in the receivership of PBL. This piqued the Prime Minister’s interest, as he stated the ownership of PBL has been long questioned.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “We are enlightened as to the structure governing the administration of the port. Inquiring minds have long wanted to know who owns the port ? As far as we’re concerned it is still Port of Belize Limited. Port of Belize Limited is in receivership but the receivership doesn’t own the port, doesn’t own the assets. It’s been a very long drawn out receivership. Without trying to play lawyer I would hazard a guess that it’s unusual for a receivership to last for the length of time this receivership has lasted without coming to some kind of resolution. My understanding is that being a receiver doesn’t confer ownership of assets on the receiver. Port of Belize Limited and its operations at that port they’re governed by a license you know. And that license is the property of Port of Belize Limited not of Waterloo Investment Holdings Limited.”
So while Lord Ashcroft is claiming to own PBL assets, PM Barrow is stated that, in fact, this is not so. Therefore, there is no claim under the above mentioned treaty.