Court / Weekend News

Feinstein Stake Bank case delayed again!

By Aaron Humes, Freelance Reporter

It is what it is, declared a philosophical Michael Feinstein, developer of the Stake Bank cruise port facility off Belizes coast, after his court case against Fort Street Tourism Village and the Government of Belize was postponed again Thursday morning.

Justice of the Supreme Court, Courtney Abel reluctantly granted adjournment to counsel for Fort Street and the Attorney General, respectively Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams and Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke, after both pleaded full schedules with cases slated to be heard in the Court of Appeal.

Feinstein is suing both the Government and Fort Street over agreements signed in the early 2000s for the then-Belize Tourism Village that gave it exclusive rights to dock cruise ship passengers in the Belize District.

But he told us that he has tried twice, without success, to bring the owners of the Village onboard as co-investors. He says they did not respond to his proposals.

According to Marshalleck, the exclusive contract unfairly prevents other businesses from competing with the Village.

Both Feinstein and Fort Street are also seeking clarity on the issue of the head tax – the monies collected from passengers entering Belize of which various entities receive a portion.

Marshalleck told The Reporter that at present it is not legislated, and they contend against the Governments assertion that it is merely an administrative device or fee only the legislature, he says, has powers to effect any financial instrument on Belizes behalf.

It is reported that on June 26 a bill in the House of Representatives will legislate the tax both retrospectively and in the future. But if that goes through as planned, it only solves part of the problem ensuring FSTVs continued revenue stream.

The Village claims unspecified damages in an ancillary claim for future losses from the head tax which the legislation aims to correct and legalize. But Marshalleck believes that the other side is hoping that that legislation jettisons that part of their worries – a tactic which seems familiar, as the Petrocaribe Loans Act carries the same kind of retrospectivity for loans borrowed under that program.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has taken a personal interest in resolving the dispute, meeting several times with both Feinstein, representatives for the Village and with Carnival Cruise Lines in Miami, the latter of which does not object in principle to the Stake Bank project.

The case returns to court on June 18.

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