Chinese rescue of Harmony Cove is close

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter

Sunday, September 30, 2012    

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THE Government is trying to conclude discussions with the China Ex-Im Bank on a deal to save the multi-billion dollar Harmony Cove project in Trelawny.

The National Commercial Bank (NCB), Sagicor and the National Insurance Fund (NIF) are expected to become local partners, fulfilling one of the requirements of the Chinese participation, Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) learnt yesterday.

However, Lorna Simmonds, executive director of Harmonisation Limited, which represents Jamaica’s stake in the project, has insisted that the Government’s relative position will not be changed by the restructuring.

She said that Harmonisation Limited will have an equal proportion to Tavistock in two subsidies through which the equity will filter.

Simmonds said that the only hitch being experienced is the processing time for the Ex-Im Bank’s intervention.

However, her attempt to impress upon Edmund Bartlett — chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts and Appropriations Committee — that the Chinese intervention was on track failed, as he was disappointed that she was unable to give a timeline for completing this latest attempt to rescue the 10-year-old resort sector project.

In the end, the Bartlett urged her to return next Wednesday with a breakdown of the $2.4 billion the Government has already spent on the project through the National Housing Trust and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), an indication of the equity base, and a full explanation of the joint venture proposals being discussed with China Ex-Im Bank.

The rescue of the project by the China Ex-Im Bank was first announced by former Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Dr Christopher Tufton, last September, under the previous Government and has been in discussion since.



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