Harmony Cove seeks new equity partners by September
The players in the multibillion-dollar Harmony Cove project in Trelawny, which has been in gestation for approximately a decade, are conducting intense negotiations to find additional equity partners by the end of September this year.
Executive Director of Harmonisation Limited Dr Lorna Simmons told members of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) on Wednesday that negotiations are taking place with potential investors with a view to finalising these talks by September this year. She also revealed that there are plans to start construction on the project by July 2016.
The first phase of Harmony Cove is expected to cost US$900 million, with the build-out of some 1,000 hotel rooms, restaurants and retail shops.
On completion of one of the largest tourism projects in the country, the resort is expected to feature 5,000 rooms with a variety of lodging options.
To date, the principal equity partner in Harmony Cove is the Government of Jamaica, through the Development Bank of Jamaica and the National Housing Trust, with 49 per cent, and private sector partner Tavistock Group, with 51 per cent. These entities have already spent some $2.7 billion on the project.
Simmonds told PAAC members that the partners in the Harmony Cove mega development have been negotiating a loan arrangement with the China Development Bank.
China Ex-Im Bank talks fizzled
The decision to engage the China Development Bank was made after more than two years of negotiations with the China Ex-Im Bank fizzled when the Government said it could not provide a sovereign loan guarantee for the funding.
However, Simmonds said the China Development Bank requires insurance backing for the loan. She said a major part of this insurance cover has already been secured and "some portions of it are still in negotiations".
PAAC Chairman Edmund Bartlett reminded committee members of the importance of the Harmony Cove venture, noting that it has significant implications for economic growth and for the development of the tourism industry.