BELIZE CITY, Fri. Aug. 25, 2017–The Government of Belize and Stake Bank Enterprise Limited, a Michael Feinstein company, signed an investment agreement today, August 25, 2017, for the construction of what is described as a world-class cruise ship docking facility on Stake Bank Caye, located four nautical miles southeast of Belize City.
Feinstein said at the signing ceremony that the US$50 million project should commence around December this year, and span 18 months. This means that the new facility could be completed by mid-2019.
A press release from the Government of Belize said that the proposed cruise docking facility would accommodate 4 voyager class cruise vessels, including a 60-slip marina, an 80-room luxury guesthouse with supporting amenities, and a theme park with water rides, roller coaster and aquaria.
Signing the agreement on behalf of the Government of Belize was Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte. Feinstein signed on behalf of Stake Bank Enterprise Limited.
Minister of State with responsibility for Investment, Trade and Commerce, Hon. Tracy Taegar-Panton, told the press that the agreement, which the Government describes as a “definitive agreement,” is expected to flesh out the obligations of the government (with regards to concessions and fiscal incentives), and also the obligations of the developer.
For his part, Feinstein said that a syndicated loan from local banks and foreign investment from entities such as cruise lines are options for funding the development project. He indicated that he would retain at least 51% of the shares in the company.
Peyrefitte said that there would be no exclusivity under the arrangement with Stake Bank. Feinstein, who had challenged in the Belize Supreme Court the exclusivity arrangement with the Fort Street Tourism Village, in which he was initially an investor, had said back in January 2016 that the only way he would revisit the project is if the Government would guarantee his loan for the Stake Bank project. (There is no indication that Government is considering such a guarantee.)
Feinstein had also said that he has no guarantee that others won’t be brought in to the sector, which would make it hard for him to secure the returns he needs to get on the investment to make it viable.
He had expressed concerns that Prime Minister Dean Barrow was in talks with British billionaire Michael Ashcroft about pursuing the development at Port of Belize, held under receivership by an Ashcroft bank, British Caribbean Bank of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
We checked with a representative of Port of Belize subsequent to Friday’s signing, who told us that the possibility is still there, although the recent announcement made regarding the Stake Bank project does raise concern about where the Government of Belize is looking now.