Funders yet to confirm Tahiti's Mahana Beach project
French Polynesia is still awaiting confirmation that the US$3-billion Mahana Beach project on Tahiti has found funders and will go ahead.
French Polynesia is still awaiting confirmation that the three billion US dollar Mahana Beach project on Tahiti has found funders and will go ahead.
Launched as the centrepiece for the territory's economic revival, the government has opted for a Hawaiian company to realise the planned resort complex.
The publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, told Walter Zweifel that Chinese investors are looking elsewhere after failing to get to build the Mahana Beach complex.
ALEX DU PREL: The Chinese have been concentrating their efforts to purchase existing hotels who have financial difficulties. They are very high-class resorts, mostly financed by the French government through the de-tax laws and they are negotiating that. The government is preparing certain papers on that and the other project is one on the southwest side of Tahiti, next to the golf course where the Chinese are interested and where they could do their own project. But nothing is signed yet. We are waiting. In a certain way in Tahiti we still have the famous cargo cult; nothing much is happening and we are waiting and suddenly, we hope, some big ship will come with lots of goodies that gives us happiness and work and so on.
WALTER ZWEIFEL: The Mahana project had Chinese bidders with a full package that would have been funded. Is there a clear indication why this was rejected and why the government decided to opt for this uncertain, other bid?
ADP: We do not have any written proof of it or anything. The only thing we discovered was a kind of strange that the guy who is the husband of Flosse's former wife is a member of the board of the Hawaiian outfit who won the competition - that's about all. Also it was a huge project and people in Tahiti are impressed by a huge project. But we have nothing concrete on that. Then there are other problems. The Mahana Beach project is surrounded by city. It's an urban zone. All these urban [zones] create pollution, there is no treatment for used water and so the bay is kind of polluted.
WZ: Gaston Flosse is out of power now. Has the project lost some of the impetus because Gaston Flosse is no longer there?
ADP: No, the problem is the cost. We're entangling so many laws and so many taxes, the French labour laws which is the laughing stuff of the world and over here strikes are as common as rain. You have all these factors. The more the Chinese discover 'oh it's beautiful', but once they go into the nitty-gritty they see there are many many things that could hamper things. And remember Flosse said there would be a kind of a duty-fee zone, they won't have to pay any import duties and we even allow to hire the workers at wages lower than the minimum legal wage and so on.
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