Will GOB grant Portico permission to make artificial land peninsula ? We asked the Deputy Prime Minister

Will GOB grant Portico permission to make artificial land peninsula ? We asked the Deputy Prime Minister

Will the government grant Portico Enterprises the permission they need to create an artificial land peninsula over the seabed? Minister of Natural Resources Cordell Hyde says he’s not sure just yet. The project’s proposed development includes the creation of property on the seabed, but they are yet to be granted the necessary environmental clearance needed to do so. Hyde says that the company is yet to file an application and discussed the difficulty of striking a balance between sustainable development and the conversation of the environment. 

Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister:  “I mean we haven’t received an application that explains in details what’s the proposed expansion so we can’t really make a determination or a decision until we have a put up for deliberation. We haven’t received that. We keep hearing a lot of things and I’m sure we’ll get an application and when that time comes we will look at it very critically. As you know the big challenge in this day and age is how do you balance development with the conservation and preservation of our God given natural beauty. That’s a big challenge. It’s called sustainable development and it’s oftentimes an elusive concept. But once they put it in the application then we’ll have our technical people and our experts weigh in to give us the best advice possible. So total scrapping and total aborting of the definitive agreement and what ultimately will be presented to Cabinet shortly I believe and later on to the House of Representatives is an umbrella kind of legislation that will govern investments over a certain amount so that if you are in tourism or you are in some other sector, that you will be able to receive the same benefits once you are investing above a certain amount and I think they will have some graduating kind of amounts but we haven’t gotten the full details of that yet. I expect that to come pretty soon.”

The government has gone on record to say that Portico’s Difinative Agreement was unacceptable, so why are they continuing to lobby on their behalf? The Minister of Tourism Anthony Mahler and Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Christopher Coye have made a trip to the US to meet with Royal Caribbean representatives following the agreement’s leak. Hyde was asked why the government seems to be assisting the company and he says it’s not about Portico but about development.  

Cordel Hyde, Deputy Prime Minister: “I don’t know that we’re maintaining a relationship with them. I don’t know that we really had a relationship with them. I think ultimately this is a big project. It’s more than just Portico. There are international players here, big international players, big money talking, lots of fanciful talk. I’ve always kind of treated it as some pie in the sky kind of thing, because for the longest I didn’t see how it would reach any kind of fruition or completion. So it’s not just Portico it’s other players and we have a responsibility, we had a responsibility back then to look at it at the cabinet level to determine how exactly we will proceed, if we will proceed at all. We sent a couple of our colleagues in on errand to try to ensure that we get the best possible product that will be acceptable to Belizeans moving forward. It may be that we aren’t able to settle on that. It may be that whatever we come up with, that whatever we think at cabinet is acceptable to Belizean people, it may not be. And if it’s not then it’s not our job to ram things down the throat of the Belizean people. That’s not the business we are in. The business we are in is to listen to the Belizean people. They are the ones who pay us, they are the ones who are bosses, they are the ones who call the tune and their voices, the voices of the people are next to God. So if we come up with a proposal or a legislation that is not acceptable to them, history is a teacher. We’ve been down this road before and so if it’s not acceptable to them, then we have to cede to the Belizean people. We have to concede. We can’t ram things down their throat, but there is a process. There’s lots of money involved, lots of possibilities, but lots of perils too and lots of challenges and so we have to be very, very careful moving forward.”

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