The exception is Palmerston, which he says will now be deleted from MOP’s plan for establishing tourism-oriented developments on all the inhabited outer islands except Aitutaki.
Tepaki says the MOUs pave the way for the $300 million project to be handed over to government for endorsement and on to China for funding approval.
MOP originally earmarked Palmerston for a resort and other accommodation that would have provided 36 five-star beds. Its deletion reduces the total number of beds featured in the overall plan from 907 to 871.
“The development of Palmerston was considered at the behest of RAPPA Member of Parliament Albert Nicholas in consultation with the previous mayor, who wanted an economy and air service for Palmerston,” Tepaki says.
Unfortunately, the current Palmerston Island Council was not included in those discussions and it has decided to defer the project until a full council can consider it. That leaves us with no option but to delete Palmerston from the current development so we can keep to our timeline for the overall project.”
Tepaki says the Palmerston development will be considered in stage two of the project, along with the PPP development for Aitutaki.
“But for now it’s off the table.”
Merchant of Paradise’s next move is to give a project document to the Cook Islands government and the government of China, Tepaki says.
“It is nothing more than a development information kit on the Paradise Prosperity Plan, outlining the scope of the development which is tourism-led with agriculture and fishing integrated for food security, and airlift and shipping services integrated for sustainability.
“It will be accompanied by land use consent MOUs to evidence the availability of land.
The developer says the kit also details implementation of the development.
“It will be on a design and build basis under a guaranteed maximum price regime, with progress payments certified on a cost to complete basis to ensure delivery. Developments on all islands will synchronised to be completed at the same time.
“The kit will be accompanied by a request for joint-venture partners equipped to resource and undertake such developments.”
Tepaki says the kit also outlines the proposed funding of development, accompanied by a request for concessional finance set aside by China under the One China Policy aid platform. It includes a request for commercial sector activity to be made available to the PPP development, with normal commercial criteria and security to apply.
“The concessional finance set aside by China under the One China Policy aid platform for commercial sector activity comes with no strings attached and no lending criteria specified, meaning that it is up to applicants to affix their own criteria for China to consider.
“A bankable criteria staring us in the face is to ‘undertake an aid development as a commercial sector activity’, which is precisely what the PPP development is.
“Formal confirmation of finance will be sought after the facts, meaning after joint-venture partners come to inspect and survey lands designated for development purpose, and prove up MOP’s scoping of the Paradise Prosperity Plan development.”