Nov 27, 2011 News
…was approached to prepare investor friendly package—says source
For several years now Kaieteur News has been raising questions about the various projects that have been and are being undertaken by the administration. One such project is the proposed Marriott Hotel that is slated to be built in Kingston.
Among the first of the controversies was the President’s inability to seemingly justify the project. Another was the fact that the sewerage system in the area where the project is proposed, had to be re-routed and that project was taken away from a local contractor (Courtney Benn Contracting Services Limited) and handed to an overseas firm.
When this was questioned the President had said that Guyana had lost capacity as a country and as such did not have the necessary capabilities to undertake such a project.
Several developers came along and conducted various undertakings but the global financial crisis was blamed for warding all of them away. But last Sunday there was a sod turning ceremony at the site for the proposed hotel in Kingston.
Atlantic Hotel Inc. is a special purpose company established to execute the project and own the hotel. To date the only person principally linked to that company is Winston Brassington.
He is also one of the chief government negotiators, the Chairman of the board of directors of the Privatization Unit and head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited both of which have also been fingered in a number of controversial deals.
One of the controversial deals involved Queens Atlantic Investment Inc. and the Sanata Complex at Industrial Site Ruimveldt.
Brassington, during the sod turning ceremony, had explained that the project with its revised designs would cost some US$51M of which Republic Bank will be putting US$27M.
The only thing wrong about that statement is the fact that Republic Bank, the Group, will not be putting any money directly into the project.
Speaking with a very senior official of the local Branch of the Bank, it transpired that Republic Bank was only approached to prepare a package that would be attractive to investors and would manage the money as the investors come on board.
At present there is no money in any account representing any of the US$27M that Brassington mentioned and associated with Republic Bank.
Republic Bank was merely approached to prepare an investor friendly package at which point in time the bank would be approached to come on board with the project.
At present the investment by the Government of Guyana is represented by the land in Kingston which already represents several million dollars in investment but outside of this no other investors have been identified.
Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud who is also currently functioning in the capacity of People’s Progressive Party Civic Campaign Manager recently told media operatives that while he is aware of the details as it relates to the consortium of investors, he would need the permission of the parties involved before information is divulged.
This claim by Persaud has been debunked by the Republic Bank Officials who said that at present the stage at which they are at is locating the investors that will put money in the project.
Persaud had told media operatives that queries can be forwarded to PU or NICIL but efforts to contact Brassington who heads both of the Units have proven to be futile.
Last July, the President said that the government was looking to seal a deal with Zublin Grenada Limited within three months but this quietly fell through.
Jagdeo had also said that the project would be financed by the government and the company, with the government putting one-third of the financing and Zublin Grenada investing the other two-thirds.
It was the same Grenada company that was upbraided over a year ago by the government for prematurely disclosing that it was working out a deal to build a Marriott-branded hotel here.
In mid-May 2010, the government reacted angrily when the company, Zublin Grenada, announced that it was seriously considering “a very attractive offer” by the Guyana Government to build the Marriott resort and casino.
In July 2010, the government advertised for interested contractors to make pre-qualification applications for construction of the hotel in the Kingston area next to the Guyana Pegasus Hotel.
Jagdeo said that two bids were received and the government decided to go with Zublin as the lower of the two bidders.
It was noted that the hotel will be operated by Marriott International and be built according to Marriott standards.
The works, it was advertised, would include the construction and erection of a 200,000 square- foot, 160-room hotel facility along with a 75,000 square foot “entertainment complex” outfitted with common services areas/amenities that will house a casino, restaurant, nightclub, and other spaces that will be rented.
But the deal appeared to be mired in controversy with City Mayor Hamilton Green in August, accusing the government of bullying the land away from the real owners, without their knowledge.
The Mayor claimed that part of the land the government has put into the hands of the developers of the Marriott Project belonged to the City Council.
“We had no conversation about it,” Green had told this newspaper.
He was referring to the fact that the hotel plans submitted for the project seem to indicate that the project would encompass the area that was once the Luckhoo Swimming Pool – property of the Council.
The Mayor said that the Council was receiving project proposals for the said area.
Green said that among the proposals was one by international Guyanese singing superstar Eddy Grant, who wanted to construct a cultural complex. That proposal was being given favourable consideration, the Mayor said.
However, Green said that he received a call from President Bharrat Jagdeo telling him not to bother with those proposals, that there is a much bigger project for the area. At that time, Green said, he did not know that the project the President was talking about was the Marriott Project.
The recent sod turning ceremony was held at the site in Kingston prepared by the government for the hotel and was attended by several key members in society including Chairman of the Private Sector Commission Ramesh Dookhoo, former PSC Chairman and hotelier Captain Gerry Gouveia, People’s Progressive Party Civic Presidential Candidate Donald Ramotar, Attorney General Charles Ramson Senior, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, and personal friend of President Jagdeo, CEO of Queens Atlantic Investment Incorporated Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop among others.
The Marriot Brand Hotel in Guyana has been a bone of contention ever since its announcement and over the years, information regarding the progress being made on the project proved to be elusive with the stakeholders changing over time.
On November 16 last following approval by Marriott of the revised designs, a ‘design and build’ contract was executed with Shanghai Construction Group and Atlantic Hotels Inc to the value of $50.9M.
According to Brassington the cost encompasses the delivery of a 197-room facility built on a turnkey basis.
The hotel is slated to also accommodate a large ballroom, conference, casino, restaurant and nightclub facility among amenities, ‘of a full service Marriott.’
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