Phillips says land swap with Chinese for highway was a good deal
Opposition leader, Dr Peter Phillips, is insisting that Jamaica got a good deal when it decided to transfer 500 hectares of land to China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) in exchange for the development of the North-South Highway.
Phillips, who was finance minister in the People's National Party administration when the deal was signed with CHEC in 2012, says Jamaica was getting a highway along with major commercial development on unused land in a single deal, without having to find funds that the country did not have.
Further, Phillips says the lands will revert to the government if CHEC does not undertake full development in 12 years.
He says the agreement provides for CHEC to build hotels and houses, as well as undertake other commercial and industrial developments on the earmarked lands.
IN POHOTO: Ivan Anderson
Dr Phillips was responding to public criticism of the agreement between the government and CHEC after Ivan Anderson, the managing director of the National Road Operating and Constructing Company told a Parliamentary Committee that no valuation was done on the lands transferred to the Chinese.
The Opposition leader said all financial analyses of the project have indicated that the Chinese firm will never be able to make a profit on its investment in building the highway.
He explains that it was on that basis that the government decided to transfer the lands to CHEC for development to offset the losses.
Public outrage has been mounting since last week when Anderson, told a parliamentary committee that there was no valuation of the lands given to CHEC.
The Office of the Contractor General has since announced that it is probing the agreement.