An Indian company’s promised multi-billion-dollar hotel investment, that has so far failed to materialize, has sparked calls by the Opposition for answers regarding the details of the deal.
Members of A Partnership for National Unity told Kaieteur News yesterday that the delay in the construction of the hotel, which was promised about five months ago, is a clear indication that the India-based investors are not serious about that venture.
APNU’s Shadow Minister of Finance, Carl Greenidge, said that the cost of the Sun and Sand Hotel, US$54M, was only announced to legitimize the cost of the controversial Marriott Hotel, which is being constructed at almost US$60M.
From observations, he opined that it is clear “that the true intention of the India-based investors is to secure a strong hold in Guyana’s mineral sector.”
Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, also commented on this issue.
It is clear that based on reports and the lack of information on the project, it has now become imperative that Government provide Guyanese with answers, he said.
“We had a big ceremony in July in which the company promised to invest US$54M for a hotel. We presume that land belonging to the taxpayers was involved. We believe that concessions were granted. Now we are hearing that the project may not be happening.
“Government has more than an obligation to tell Guyana what is happening here,” Ramjattan added.
Also of major concern to the Member of Parliament are reports that Sun and Sand is throwing all its efforts behind gold and diamond mining.
“There are also very few details in which media reports said that prospecting licences under the control of a prominent firm have been transferred. One has to wonder whether this was the real intention all along.”
The AFC official, whose party has seven of the 33 Opposition-controlled seats in the National Assembly, said that moves will be made to question Government about the details.
“We have few details of this deal. It was announced suddenly and we would like to know whether any mining concessions were tied to the hotel construction.”
In early July, Government issued press invitations for the sod turning of the hotel at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara. There was not much mention of the project before.
It was disclosed, then, in the presence of President Donald Ramotar, that construction was to start immediately. Also there were Tourism Minister, Irfaan Ali; former President Bharrat Jagdeo and Managing Director of BK International, Brian Tiwarie.
The US$54M five-star, luxury hotel and casino was to have included 163 rooms.
On Saturday, Tiwarie hinted that his company may have pulled out.
“I am not really the local contractor you know… I just watching over one and two fine things. Is me friend dem, man. I just looking over some things for them but they are here right now. You should call them and ask them why they ain’t start as yet.”
The Managing Director of the Hotel Project, Bhushan Chandna, has been very illusive. Since the extravagant launching of the hotel, Kaieteur News had invited Chandna for an exclusive interview.
He had promised an interview with the newspaper two days after the sod turning but was a no show. Calls to ascertain why he did not turn up for the meeting were answered by his associate who related that the Managing Director had diarrhoea.
The meeting was rescheduled to Tuesday, July 15, last. However, even on that agreed date, Chandna was not available and later informed that he was leaving for India and would return within a week’s time.
Since then, Chandna has remained unreachable even on his India- based cellular number he had given to Kaieteur News.
Calls to the Managing Director on Sunday, did not bear much success as his assistant who answered his mobile number insisted that he was not in Georgetown.
The associate was asked the reason for the company not commencing construction. “The Company is not really looking at the hotel business right now. It is focused on other interests, but I can’t say (at this time).
“Mr. Bhushan will be here on December 1. The people for the mining are here, but not for the hotel. I cannot tell you much about the hotel business.”
A source at the Lands and Surveys Department confirmed that the Indian firm is still to complete payments for the Liliendaal lands.
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