Mac insists CHEC to do port
(CNS): Regardless of the issues and controversy surrounding the decision to keep negotiating with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for the development of cruise berthing facilities in George Town, the premier says it will be the company that partners with government to do the project. McKeeva Bush was adamant on Thursday that the development will go ahead with the Chinese partner and no one will stop it. Bush said he was determined to get value for money for the Cayman Islands with this project and not follow “some UN ideal” regarding procurement. He described Chinese money as the cheapest and CHEC as the best partner for the job. “I am not going to back down,” he said. “They will not stop it.”
Bush has been informed by the UK overseas territories minister that the FCO will not support the port project until the premier gets the process back in line with what Henry Bellingham has described as best procurement practice. However, Bush is determined to stick with the Beijing based firm, which emerged as Bush’s preferred partner following his sudden termination of talks with GLF Construction weeks ahead of the possible start of the cruise port development last April.
The firm has caused controversy across the region because of its parent company’s World Bank ban and as a result of allegations of corruption in its business dealings, as well as a plethora of other issues relating to the infrastructure projects it is involved in throughout the Caribbean, where numerous problems have arisen.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, Bush was adamant that no one would stop the partnership with CHEC and the business plan would be submitted to the CTC, the auditor general or any other regulator. The premier said he was determined to start the crucial facilities and had spoken about a November start date.
Announcing that DECCO, McAlpine and Hurlstone would be joining CHEC on the upland part of the project, Bush said there would be no “soup kitchens” and jobs would go to Caymanians. He said CHEC would also be obligated to purchase materials on island where possible -- all of which would ensure that the money stayed here.
“This is the type of investment that impacts our people the way they need it most, with jobs for those out of work, and business for companies that are struggling,” he told the Legislative Assembly.
He claimed to be the first administration to progress to a new port, though objections by the FCO might still prevent that from becoming a reality, despite Bush’s insistence.
“We are determined to get the best deal for Cayman, and to secure best value for money. We will not shirk from full examination of what we are doing, by the Central Tenders Committee, the auditor general, and any other duly empowered regulatory authority,” he said.
He said Chinese money was the cheapest and no one was going to stop the project as it would bring enormous benefits to the country.
“There will be a thousand people employed on that dock when it is in full swing and the vast majority of them will be Caymanian,” he promised as he pointed to the criticisms he was receiving for working with the Chinese firm when he said the whole world was dealing with China.
“What? So you gonna believe these donkey faced people who talk about corruption,” he asked. “They are some of the ugliest people in the world,” he added as he quoted from the bible and accused those opposing the port development of “dirty ways”.
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