The Feinstein Group of Companies announced last year its intent to invest US$100 million in a cruise port at Stake Bank and a shopping zone at North Drowned Caye off Belize City, and today, the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill, which would, among other things, provide for the developer to be exempt from Income Tax and General Sales Tax (GST) for 20 years, was introduced at a Special Sitting of the House of Representatives.
“This, of course, is the enabling legislation that will now permit the developer to begin works on Stake Bank,” said Prime Minister Dean Barrow, in introducing the bill.
He noted that the 16-acre island known as Stake Bank lies about 4 miles offshore from Belize City, and the idea is to locate the new cruise port there and to build the causeway to Belize City.
He said that all relevant Environmental Impact Assessments were submitted and examined by the Department of the Environment, and it appears that the developer has financing lined up, and so with the passage of bill, construction would be imminent, Barrow said.
He also indicated that the bill makes provision for the cruise facility to be declared a port of entry, and to allow for the Feinstein Group to collect cargo dues from all cruise ships that will call there, just as is permitted at the Big Creek and Belize City port.
It also provides for passengers to pay a port development fee, which would be shared between the Feinstein Group and the Government, Barrow said, adding that the details of the fee would be worked out later.
Amandala understands that the project, while it will not have formal Export Processing Zone (EPZ) status designation, will function similarly, with Government’s primary revenues coming from the sharing of the port development fee to be paid by passengers in the form of a departure tax.
He said that a larger commercial agreement would also be signed between Government and the developer.