In 2004, the Government of Belize had signed onto an agreement with the Fort Street Tourism Village, giving the port exclusivity in the Belize District. Some years later when Michael Feinstein sought to develop the Stake Bank Project which would be another port in Belize City, there were obstacles due to this agreement. The matter went to the Supreme Court of Belize and on October 20, a decision was handed down by the courts, ruling those four provisions in the agreement as being unlawful. It was a ruling to celebrate and it was popular opinion that with this ruling, the construction of the port would begin; but things have taken a turn and it seems there may be no Stake Bank project after all. Prime Minister Dean Barrow explained.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow: “Cabinet agreed last week to green light his project so I was all set to sign the statutory instrument that would bring the law that we passed giving him various incentives into force but I met with him last Friday because I understood that he had some concerns and he made clear that unless we were prepared to give him a 25 year exclusive he would not be inclined to proceed. Now I found that kind of rich. This is as you know the man who a few months ago succeeding in winning a judgment from the court striking down exclusivity in so far as it related to FSTB and in so far as it related to the contract that he had first gotten from the PUP which he then turned around and sold to FSTB. It is absolutely impossible for us in view of the court ruling and perhaps as a matter of instinct and inclination to give any 25 year exclusivity. So that’s where the matter rests for now.”
Prime Minister Barrow was asked if there is still a chance to reach an agreement with Feinstein.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow: “Well I don’t see how? I did say to him that there have been these expressions of interest from other people who want to look at Port Loyola as a site and we were naturally going to permit them, maybe even encourage them to see whether that was technically feasible. Mr.Feinstein said that he knew as a fact that it would not be. I said then “What’s your problem?” but in the end as I said he is insisting on an exclusive, which the law that I was going to bring to force doesn’t provide for, he is insisting on an exclusive 25 year agreement and government won’t do.”
So, Michael Feinstein is not getting 25 years exclusivity from the Barrow administration as he has requested and there may indeed be no Stake Bank project, but according to the Prime Minister there are alternatives that are being looked at and there are potential investors that will be met with.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow: “Two investors in particuallry, a company called PIL, I’m not sure what it stands for that is the company that is the reciever of the Port Loyola Port after there was the foreclosure on Luke Espat. So PIL has that interest and there is a group that Chukka reffered to who is supposed to come and talk to us so we only have it second hand from Chukka that that group is also interested in looking at building an alongside birthing facility and the only place in terms of Belize City would be Port Layola. Remeber that with Mr.Feinstein we would still have to tender from Stake Bank to the mainland. So both in terms of PIL and the other one we are going to have face to face meetings with both of them in the not to distant future with PIL I think the first week in February but government as I said is going to be extremely keen to see how far those discussions can go and to see what their technical studies will throw. Now we know that Luke Espat and Carnival were going to build at Port Loyola and Carnival had done it’s studies and knew that the Port Loyola option was feasible. Mr.Feinstein tells me that that was then and now because the ships have grown bigger he is positive that Port Layola is not an option. Well we need to hear that from the experts that are going to be retained by those who have an interest in Port Loyola so for now it’s wati and see.”
Michael Feinstein first launch the idea of the Stake Bank Project in September 2013 and had said it would have been a three hundred million dollar investment.