Was there a “definitive” Portico Agreement? Former Minister Panton says no
Is there a definitive agreement or not? That’s the question that we asked former Minister of State Tracy Taegar-Panton. She was the chairperson of the Cabinet Investment Committee during the last UDP administration. The backstory is Port of Magical/Portico had gotten a memorandum of understanding from the Barrow administration in 2017 and four years later in 2021, it got an environmental impact assessment (EIA) approved by the Briceño government. However, reports surfaced recently that Portico, whose project developer is David Gegg, had gotten a definitive agreement under the UDP Government. Former Attorney General, Senator Michael Peyrefitte wrote on January 27 that under his tenure, there was no such agreement recommended by the Cabinet investment committee and neither was there any Cabinet approval nor was there any such agreement vetted by his office. Peyrefitte indicated that the agreement was not even discussed, submitted or seen by that committee, the former Cabinet or his ministry. In an extended interview today with Taegar-Panton, we asked if she had seen or approved such an agreement, largely in part because of the lack of an EIA.
You will also remember that there are also two other competing interests trying to operate in an area of roughly eight square miles near Belize City. Because of the complexities involved, we asked Panton whether there were similar agreements considered or implemented. We also asked her to discuss the role of this critical Cabinet committee.