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Tepaki to release $300m plan

Saturday January 05, 2019 Written by Published in Economy

Merchant of Paradise plans to release its $300 million “integration development” plan for the outer islands and part one of Merchant of Paradise’s two-part “Paradise Prosperity Plan” to the government next week.


Tepaki says the massive $300 million plan, which depends on Chinese funding, will expand the current tourism-led economy to include Pa Enua islands. At present, any significant tourism is mostly confined to Rarotonga and Aitutaki, he says.

The plan features agriculture and fishing developments as well as shipping and airline services, and aims to develop trade and finance in the outer islands. 

Part two, which will involve streamlining tourism, agriculture, shipping and a proposed airline, as well as expanding fishing into farming national waters and lagoons, will be released later and funded out of cash flow, Tepaki says.

He told CINews on Wednesday that documentation would be handed over to the government next week for its “consideration and endorsement in terms of government policy compliance”.

Tepaki said he did not anticipate any compliance issues, as government policies were “imbedded” into the plan.

A second copy of the same documentation would be given to government to pass on to China through its ambassador in Wellington, as previously agreed with government, he added.

“This document will ask that China selects mainland China partners able to resource and carry out the PPP part one in partnership with Pa Enua landowners and their community partners, with Chinese partners to hold 33 per cent shares and community partners to hold 67 per cent shares, so as to warrant local company status.

“It will also ask that China approves commercial sector concessional financing under the One China Policy aid platform subject to Chinese partners chosen ‘proving up’ Merchant of Paradise’s scoping of PPP part one.

“I concede that the commercial structure proposed by MOP with locals holding 67 per cent shares is a far cry from the norm of foreign investors coming to develop and holding the majority shares, but I don’t believe it is an issue,” he said.

“The Paradise Prosperity Plan part one is still an aid development in which locals normally hold all shares, it’s just that it will be carried out by the commercial sector.”

Tepaki claimed China was more about inclusive developments for peaceful trade and the prosperity of all as promoted by the One Belt One Road initiative and less about ownership. And that was why Merchant of Paradise was targeting mainland China partners for the Pa Enua community, he said.

“Anyway, we’ll know soon enough, when government hands over China’s copy of PPPID.”

Tepaki said that after seeing the clash between government and Chinese contractor CCECC over the Te Mato Vai project he had chosen not to release PPPID to government, instead waiting see how that played out.

“Of particular concern to me was the chatter of referring the matter to court.

“I feared our relationship with China may be damaged enough to prevent China from aiding our Pa Enua people and their project but now that our PM has met with China’s president at the APEC meeting last year and all seems cordial, MOP will release the plan to government and will not wait for resolution of the Te Mato Vai issue.”

Tepaki said he hoped the Te Mato Vai matter would not go to court, as he believed government stood to lose.

“Government’s complaint that China did not deliver the water reticulation it expected and its expectation that China should repair systemic damage are wishful thinking, given that reticulation was completed some two years ago and was obviously tested and certified for completeness by contracted consultants.

“Outside contractors subsequently removed pipes and joints for testing at the behest of government, which effectively rendered China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation’s (CCECC) systemic warranty null and void.

“And in my view, government engaging Opus to make a case against CCECC was silly, because CCECC would probably simply argue that Opus was not present when construction took place two years ago and can only speculate.

Tepaki said he hoped the the parties would see sense and avoid court action, pointing out that development contractual disputes were usually resolved by arbitration and rarely by public court action.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if CCECC is sitting tight and waiting for court action to reveal the “ghost writers” in CINews and the mole who played them and government.”   

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