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Gov’t banking on Chinese rescue of Harmony Cove project

BY BALFORD HENRY

Friday, September 28, 2012 | 4:10 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Government is trying to conclude discussions with the China Ex-Im Bank on a deal to save the multi-billion Harmony Cove project in Trelawny, Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) learned Wednesday.

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, but Executive Director of Harmonization Limited, which represents the Jamaica's stake in the project, Lorna Simmonds, insists that the government’s relative position will not be changed by the restructuring.

She said that Harmonization Limited would 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 PAAC chairman, Opposition MP Edmund Bartlett, that the Chinese intervention was on track failed, as Bartlett 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 (NHT) 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.

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

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