Jamaica going ahead with controversial CHEC deal
(CNS): Despite the on-going concerns of Jamaica’s contractor general the government says it still intends to go ahead with the signing of a deal with the China Communications Construction Company - the parent company of China Harbour Engineering Company. According to the local media Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies said “some agreement” will be signed next week that will be import to the future of Jamaica's economy. According to the Gleaner the minister has not revealed details about the nature of the deal but it is believed to be connected to further infrastructure projects. The news comes against the backdrop of a courtroom battle between the government and Greg Christie (left)
Jamaican government officials are currently in dispute with the Office of the Contractor General over a Cabinet decision to appoint an independent oversight panel to advise on three projects including the north-to-south link of Highway 2000. Davies has taken the matter to the Supreme Court, seeking to bar Contractor General Greg Christie from compelling members of the oversight panel to report to him.
The Chinese company is stirring up controversy across the Caribbean as it becomes more and more involved in major capital development projects.
CHEC has also been touted by the Cayman Islands premier as the company he wishes to develop the long awaited cruise berthing facilities in George Town, but McKeeva Bush has also come up against problems as a result of the way he selected CHEC.
The UK has warned the premier that it will not approve the deal he is currently negotiating with CHEC until the process returns to best international procurement practice which means it will need to be properly tendered based on a strategic business need.
Bush has however remained defiant and stated in the Legislative Assembly recently that “they will not stop him” in his goal to work with CHEC on the cruise port project. Bush said it was unrealistic to try and attain some UN ideal in connection with the goal to get a cruise facility on Grand Cayman and that the Chinese represented the best option as the CIG did not have the money.
The proposed deal has risen from a $180million estimated project to one exceeding $300million and one which will see the Chinese firm take a percentage of the fees paid by passengers to the port authority as well as a 50 year lease on what is understood to be a mammoth upland development that will require land reclamation and some fear will dwarf the current downtown area.
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