Nov 23, 2012 News
By Abena Rockcliffe
A parliamentary motion which seeks to stop Government from injecting state funds into the construction of the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, was yesterday tabled by the Alliance For Change (AFC).
The motion, if passed, will seek to ensure that no further expenditure is incurred by National Industrial and Commercial
Investments Limited (NICIL) or its subsidiary Atlantic Hotels Incorporated (AHI) on the Marriott Hotel project, without the authorization and approval of the National Assembly.
The construction has an estimated cost of US$60M.
The AFC noted in the motion, its belief that “Government is using NICIL as an instrument, whether directly or indirectly through its subsidiary Atlantic Hotels Incorporated, to unlawfully acquire public lands and then to lease such lands, and also to spend billions of dollars of public monies into the Marriott Hotel Project, so as to avoid and evade authorization and approval of the National Assembly.”
Parliament was given notice of the motion by AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan, who based the motion on the fact that the Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, has failed to “fully comply” with the terms of a motion approved by the National Assembly on June 27.
The motion cited by Ramjattan had sought to hold the responsible Minister to, among things, provide the National Assembly, “as early as possible” with: a detailed report on the disposal by sale or otherwise of all state assets entrusted to NICIL and the Privatization Unit, the terms on which they were disposed of and the criteria used and the outstanding bi-annual reports and annual audited accounts required of NICIL and the privatization Unit under the relevant legislation.
Also, the said motion had called for the handing over from the former executive director of NICIL (and Head of the Privatisation Unit), a report on the disposal by sale or otherwise of all other state assets, including the terms on which they were disposed of and the criteria.
Further, the motion requested that the Finance Minister make financial provision for the “urgent” commencement of an “independent financial audit of the operations of NICIL.”
The motion stated that “the responsible Minister has failed to fully comply with the terms of the above-mentioned Motion, now known as Resolution No. 14 of 2012 of the National Assembly, to make the necessary financial provision or to provide the reports and information thereunder;…it is a notorious fact that NICIL has prime State Lands known as Block Alpha, Kingston vested to it by Order of Minister Ashni Singh dated 23rd November, 2010, which vested is an illegality since NICIL is not a public corporation.”
The AFC noted that “another illegality occurred when NICIL leased the said Block Alpha, Kingston for 99 (ninety-nine) years to a subsidiary company of NICIL, namely, Atlantic Hotels Incorporated which is the front company for the Marriott Hotel Project.”
It was pointed out in the motion that the money being invested by NICIL into Atlantic Hotels Incorporated is public money as defined by the Constitution and the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, which monies ought to be made payable into the Consolidated Fund.
The AFC motion mentioned the fact that “the expenditure of public monies, to be constitutional and lawful, has to be authorized for spending and/or investment by the majority approval of the National Assembly.”
The motion will be debated at the next parliamentary sitting.
The Chinese contractor involved in the Marriott Hotel was advanced US$10M (G$2B) last year, despite ongoing objections to the project by the opposition parties in Parliament.
This project has been severely criticized for its lack of transparency and the alleged use of taxpayers’ money through the unaudited NICIL books. The project is also criticized by hoteliers who have argued that there is unused capacity in other hotels.
The main criticism is the government’s intended competition with the private sector.
Days before the General and Regional Elections last November, the Bharrat Jagdeo administration turned the sod signaling the start of the project at Kingston, west of the current Pegasus Hotel.
The land in Kingston is being cleared and camps have been built by the Chinese company.
The money would be taken from the accounts of NICIL, the same company which is charged with managing undisclosed state assets worth billions of dollars.
On November 16, 2011, a ‘design and build’ contract was executed with SCG and AHI to the value of US$50.9M. It will see the delivery of a 197-room facility built on a turnkey basis.
Guyanese you are being prostituted by your politicians!
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