Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, who oversaw the controversial construction of the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, yesterday denied that his close friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop is involved in the hotel deal.
In response to Kaieteur News, Jagdeo questioned how the Coalition Government, after three years in office, has no knowledge of the ‘so called’ investors.
“Three years into this Government, they ought to know the share structure of the Marriott Hotel. The Government is not as bad as Kaieteur News. They said that the hotel is owned 100% by the Government of Guyana,” Jagdeo stated.
He continued, “Not by anyone else. Not Jagdeo. Not Ramroop. Not Glenn Lall, but 100% by the Government of Guyana.”
It is true that Government through Atlantic Hotels Incorporated (AHI), established under the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), controls the hotel.
Former head of NICIL, Winston Brassington, was CEO of Atlantic Hotels Incorporated (AHI) and he is now before the courts on fraud charges.
There continues to be mounting questions about the players who were behind the syndicated loan used to inject funding into the hotel.
The deal has been shrouded in secrecy with the Ministry of the Presidency indicating that the Government since coming to office in 2015 has been unable to uncover the players involved in the syndicated investment.
But officials in the banking sector say that it is impossible for the government not to know the smallest detail about the Marriott project. And indeed, Government officials say that the government knows every detail.
Jagdeo noted that the idea behind the Marriott was to sell the hotel off through an open public bid, take the money and move on to another project.
Opened in early 2015, the 197-room hotel ran into early problems of not making enough money to repay the almost US$27M-plus funding from Republic Bank (Trinidad.)
The Hotel was on the verge of being taken over by the bank last year because of non-payments. However, some tough negotiations ended up with the hotel being granted some legroom, Government officials have confirmed.
With the renegotiation, the hotel has managed to bring down its interest rates from a hefty nine percent to just over six percent. The Coalition Administration has been facing pressure to give up the hotel.
The hotel was birthed under the Jagdeo administration with promises of local jobs being created. However, save for a few contracts for sand and other material, the jobs went mostly to the Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) and its imported Chinese workers.
Even the landscaping jobs were handled by them.
The hotel cost over US$50M to build, with total costs including land running up US$80M, government officials said. That meant excluding the loan, the people of Guyana injected almost US$50M in land and cash worth.
The government is now admitting that it will be difficult to sell the hotel and recoup the costs.
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