He was speaking during the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament meeting held on Wednesday (February 28) at Gordon House.
Mr. Vaz informed that there are three outstanding issues that will determine whether the project proceeds or not, adding that a Cabinet submission will be made shortly.
“The three issues are the geographic location for the exclusivity of the casino licence; the shares held by Government and whether or not the Government is prepared to look at reducing its shareholdings; and last but not least… the tax incentive outside of the Omnibus provisions that are there now,” he outlined.
The Minister told the Committee that the tax incentive issue could either be the “dealmaker or deal-breaker” as to whether the project goes ahead.
This, he explained, is based on “what was originally agreed back in the early 2000s in relation to the incentives and what exists today and what we are able to do”.
“My last information was (that) the differential was in excess of US$100 million,” he further stated.
Additionally, Mr. Vaz said the Tavistock Group is to come back to the Government with their final position and pointed out that the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service has “outlined to them what our situation is”.
In relation to the location for the exclusivity of the casino licence issue, Mr. Vaz said the regulations that were originally passed took it all the way to the border of St. Ann and St. Mary.
“Then there was another applicant that had gotten an integrated resort development approval for St. James. So the decision will have to be taken which one we give, depending on what other live prospects we have for a casino,” he stated.
The Minister advised that there are several other parties who are interested, and depending on which of them can fulfil the financing requirements, “the decision will be taken in terms of where the exclusivity for Harmony Cove will be”.
Harmony Cove is a 2,300-acre property on the Jamaican north coast, located 23 miles east of Montego Bay, St. James, and 44 miles west of Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
It is being developed into a resort to include several world-class golf courses, a luxury spa, marina facilities, commercial developments, luxury hotels, private residencies and other amenities.
Additionally, it will include a hotel, casino, convention and entertainment centres, restaurants and retail outlets.
The project is being developed at a cost of US$7.5 billion by Harmonisation Limited, comprising the Development Bank of Jamaica and National Housing Trust; and Tavistock Jamaica Inc., a subsidiary of Tavistock Group – a global private investment company.
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