Senate Approves Port Acquisition & Settlement Deeds Bill 2023 for Immediate Belize Port Takeover

Senate Approves Port Acquisition & Settlement Deeds Bill 2023 for Immediate Belize Port Takeover

Another major topic of discussion in today’s Senate meeting was the Port Acquisition & Settlement Deeds Bill 2023. The Bill was approved by the Senate today and will enable the immediate takeover of the Port of Belize’s assets and operations. The government has already appointed a new interim Board of Directors and takes over the Belize City port this week after striking a nearly 200 million deal with the Ashcroft alliance. Leader of Government Business Eamon Courteney spoke about the significance of the move and the benefits that will come under nationalization. 

Senator Eamon Courtenay, Government Business: “There were strikes Madam President which had serious deleterious consequences for individuals , for businesses, indeed for the economy of Belize. Efforts to resolve those disputes failed. Court cases were brought against the stevedores’ union alleging illegal strike, claiming damages for interruption of business. That is not the type of labour relations that we’re accustomed to here in this country. The intransigence of the parties in particularly the management Madam President has led to an unsatisfactory state of affairs in this country. The use of litigation to resolve that type of issue and to pressure, Madam President, is not the way we conduct business in this country. And that has to be looked at in the context Madam President where the government tried its best to try to mediate to encourage, to move parties along to some path of harmony, some path of understanding and a better relationship to the extent that the government even agreed and decided to make a payment to stevedores. And again Madam President and members of the Senate even that was stopped by the management. Litigation, injunction, money can’t get to the stevedores because of the injunction secured by management.” 

Senator Courtenay also spoke about the urgency of striking the agreement and being able to resolve the various court matters that were brought by the Ashcroft Alliance. 

Senator Eamon Courtenay, Government Business: “I think members of the public will recall all too well that business had to be shut down in order to do repairs to the pier. Interrupting the flow of goods into and out of Belize. Putting people to additional costs. But why ? The pier at Port of Belize, Madam President, was declared open in July 1980. More than forty two years ago. Its shelf life expired. We in the government have always said that having a single pier that old and in that condition constitutes a clear and present risk both an economic and a security risk to this country. Because of its state of disrepair if by accident a ship, some vessel were to hit it hard enough and a part of it were to be seriously damaged Madam President the dislocation and the interference with trade in this country would be significant. It is our settled view that adequate investments to repair, to refurbish and to store that pier should have been made a long time ago and we cannot wait any longer.”

The Bill passed in the House of Representatives last Friday.

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