US$60M Marriott opening greeted by protest and criticism – video

US$60M Marriott opening greeted by protest

April 17, 2015 | By APNU+AFC boycotts ceremony

By Kiana Wilburg

President Donald Ramotar and Senior Vice President of the Marriot International Inc., Brenda Durham during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Guyana Marriott Hotel.Photo:President Donald Ramotar and Senior Vice President of the Marriot International Inc., Brenda Durham at ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Guyana Marriott Hotel.

Anticipations were high for the much-touted grand opening of the Marriott Hotel at Kingston, the first of its kind in these parts. It was supposed to be a major project initiated by the former administration and now being completed by the Donald Ramotar government.

Ahead of the May 11 general elections, it was expected to be a proud moment. But the expected spectacular event complete with pomp and fanfare fizzled yesterday, falling short of expectations. 

Protestors demonstrate with placards and chants:

The mostly taxpayer-funded hotel saw heavy police presence and barricades around its environs, and as the proceedings of the event geared to start, protestors who were held at bay by police in front of the nearby Pegasus Hotel, broke the barrier and defiantly stood in front of the Marriott, waving their placards and chanting loudly.

There was a glaring absence of the Opposition at the event even though they were formally invited. Also absent was former President Bharrat Jagdeo, the man who pushed for the project despite misgivings by the Opposition.
Members of the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) were among the protestors.

The police were unable to hold the demonstrators back, leading to a face-off at the entrance of the new hotel.

Even though the protests threatened to overshadow the planned proceedings at the US$60M hotel, it did not deter President Donald Ramotar from proceeding with the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The presidential car and security detail vehicles swept past the chanting protestors, into the compound of the hotel.

Government ministers seemed unfazed by the harsh comments of the irate taxpayers who were being blocked from protesting and in some cases, assaulted.

The opening ceremony was, surprisingly, quite short as it saw brief remarks from President Ramotar and Senior Vice President and Regional General Counsel of the Marriot International Inc., Brenda Durham.

Both said the event was indeed historic and that they look forward to seeing the success of the hotel in Guyana. Ramotar had also unveiled the plaque for the hotel with Durham at his side.

Keys were presented to the President; Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh; Minister of Tourism, Irfaan Ali, and NICIL head, Winston Brassington. Those present were also given the bronze-coated souvenirs.

While the red-carpet occasion continued, taxpayers were still engaged outside in heated exchanges with police officers.

The chant was on: “The Ramotar/Jagdeo administration is worse than the anti-christ. They are cruel. But they have three more weeks, three more weeks until they meet the end of the road.”

APNU Shadow Minister of Local Government, Ronald Bulkan, explained that the hotel represents a brazen act of corruption, and it is clear that the end is near for a dying government.

“I also want to speak on the barricading of all roads leading to the Marriott this morning (yesterday) where citizens sought a peaceful protest, but were prevented from so doing. While the PPP/C is running ads incessantly on the radio, television, print media, etc., boasting and bragging about having returned democracy to Guyana and that today, unlike in the past, people have the right and freedom of assembly and expression, what occurred today proved that they are lying.

“I want to call on them to pull these misleading ads forthwith and stop lying to the nation.”

Another protestor said, “I am just fed up. We need better schools and hospitals, but they hustle to open this structure born out of lawlessness. It makes me sick. They told us they were getting investors to fund it and then Brassington got the belly to turn around and tell the nation that he used millions of our tax dollars to build it. They are criminals in fancy suits and they need to go to jail.’

“Just imagine I come out here to exercise my constitutional right and these police officers just pushing me and telling me how I can’t come here. Are these people serious? Is like this government just abusing us, spitting in our face every day and we like the fools, the stupid, dumb people they think we are, must remain silent. Well, not at all. This Government has pushed us to the limit and come May 11 they will feel the wrath of the people. They will know the power of the X.”

City Mayor Hamilton Green was also present. He said he was there to check the drainage systems, but was prevented from doing so. He alleged that two police officers assaulted him and arrested his security personnel. He was holding a placard too.

Marriott Hotel Georgetown Guyana

Marriott Hotel Georgetown Guyana

The 197-room Marriott Hotel in Kingston was hailed by Government as one of the special projects to boost tourism and hospitality. But it started off on a rocky road. From the transfer of the lands to the murky details of the financing, there were many questions from the Opposition, leading to clashes even in the National Assembly.

It was only after continuous pressure that Government finally released a partial feasibility study of the project.

From the inception of the project, it has been one filled with controversy, as billions of taxpayers’ dollars were spent by Government on the edifice and without the authority of the National Assembly. It was supposed to be a private/public partnership project. In the end, it ended up mostly a Government one. No big worry, except that Government is now planning to transfer a majority stake to a shadowy Hong Kong investor.

The lack of transparency and plans by Government to sell 67 percent of its equity to the equity investor for a mere US$8M, along with a host of tax concessions have angered Opposition as well as other hoteliers who have been struggling to fill rooms.

More than US$35M of taxpayers’ dollars were initially sunk into the hotel’s construction with no evidence of the hundreds of jobs promised during the construction to locals. The Chinese contractor, Shanghai Construction Group, reportedly imported scores of workers.

The still-secret concessions and other benefits of the Marriott Hotel have also been heavily criticized not only by the Opposition, but by other hotels which said the unfair playing field gave Marriott-brand structure a big advantage over them and would spell the death knell for them.

Last year, the Opposition, through Desmond Trotman, a former Parliamentarian, filed a court case blocking the hotel from transferring the lands and mortgaging it. It effectively blocked more than US$20M from coming in from the investors.

The calls are now on for Government to sell shares of the hotel to locals instead of a virtually unknown foreign investor.

Marriott Int’l brand may soon be investigated under the USA Foreign Corrupt Practices Act-Badal

April 16, 2015 | Kaieteur News

Local hotelier, Robert Badal, is of the firm belief that the Marriott Hotel is a monument of fraud and deceit and would bring shame and disgrace to the international brand. The businessman is also convinced that the international brand will suffer a huge blow to its integrity due to its continued alliance with the “corrupt”  [READ MORE]

Marriott Hotel: Crooked or Foolish Deal?

April 16, 2015 |Kaieteur News  – By Chris Ram

On Thursday the cream of the private sector would be gathering at the Kingston Marriott to celebrate what a leading private sector representative described as an impact investment, i.e. an investment in a company that not only provides a financial return to the investor but also social and environmental returns as well. [READ MORE]

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  • compton de castro  On April 18, 2015 at 1:18 am

    White elephant ? In city that sinks/stinks !

    Should have been near international airport !

    How naive are decision makers.😴

  • Clyde Duncan  On April 18, 2015 at 2:39 am

    I hope developers and investors take a serious look at Stanley Ming’s 2030 Plan, there are some ideas worth considering, such as the beach along the river …

  • albert  On April 18, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    A few months ago, just around the corner nearing the mouth of the Demerara river, a contractor with a sewage truck was shown dumping raw sewage into the river from his truck dumpster. For those who might swim there be careful.

  • Cliff  On April 18, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    This is the best thing that ever happened to Guyana.

  • compton de castro  On April 18, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Where does the “S” go for this elephant…..? Into demerara or canefields nearby.
    If stored in septic tanks what happens when GT floods again.
    Why i asked ….in 1980s on visit to ALGARVE south Portugal one could see
    concrete structures emptying raw “s” from 4 skyrise blocks of flat into sea.
    When tide was high the beaches had floating raw “s” on its shores.

    All that glitters is not golden !😇

    This is why “right” development “wrong” location.

    Think again.

    • albert  On April 18, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      “When tide was high the beaches had floating raw “s” on its shores”

      Well they could put carass to live in the area. Heard carass love to feed on that stuff. Also heard a fellow in New Amsterdam use to grow corn around outdoor toilet and I heard they were the yellowish and sweetest corn on the market.
      Free ideas for Ramoutar

  • Vivian Fredericks  On April 18, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    The protest is anti -development. Any body can criticise, but not anybody can build. I personally think that The Marriott is an achievement for the people of Guyana. People who think about development will naturally see it as step forward. Why can’t the opposition think, wisely, constructively and intelligently. Guyanese will no longer accept cheap politics and childish actions. We are more intelligent than we were a few decades ago. So come on opposition act more responsible The whoLe nation is looking at you with skeptical eyes. vivian Fredericks

    • albert  On April 18, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      How and where did the Chinese workers who lived, work, and sleep on the construction site got rid of their human waste? Just curious.

    • Thinker  On April 18, 2015 at 10:15 pm

      Have all the issues raised here been resolved?

  • de castro  On April 18, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Am more concerned about “waste of the international” guests of hotel also.
    Dem Chinese live on a bowl of rice !😈😀

  • Clyde Duncan  On April 18, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    Here is details of the feasibility study:

    Click to access HVS-feasibility-study-for-media.pdf

  • Clyde Duncan  On April 19, 2015 at 3:17 am

    Marriott – Build It and They Will Come:

  • Clyde Duncan  On April 19, 2015 at 3:39 am

    Steven Paul Jobs:
    A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

    I think really great products come from melding two points of view — the technology point of view and the customer point of view. You need both. You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.

    • de castro  On April 19, 2015 at 5:21 am

      Not wishing to dampen the enthusiasm of some….
      Very impressive feastability study.
      Still feel “right” development “wrong” location.
      Short sightedness ….most of us arrive at airport not seaport.
      GT is commutable distance away. River cruise to city viable.
      Not to mention “security” in GT after dark.
      Or the embarrassment of flooding.

      And avoiding political issues won’t even mention the word “corruption” !

      The infrastructure for resiting of capital city near international airport on higher
      ground would cost a fraction of what I consider “opportunity lost”….

      Decisions decisions shame !

      Politicians careers are so uncertain that ” shortsightedness” become apparent.

      Bed and breakfast near airport suits me fine on my next visit.
      Learn more from locals than international tourists …

      Que sera

  • albert  On April 19, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Listening to the photographic piece you will note the guy mention two points worth noting: This hotel was built to attract tourists. This is a common sense question. Is Guyana ready for tourists of the kind intended?

    Secondly, Surinam invested a similar sum in some gold refining project. If it were your money which of the two would you select.

    Some Guyanese got awe money in a overseas bank.

  • de castro  On April 19, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Banks are being forced to disclose money transfer over £10.000
    $15.000 USD. Now we have two new world banks entering the arena….
    BRICS and Chinese/Asian world banks.
    International banking is difficult to trace/monitor money movement.
    Syphoning large sums by drug barons are steps ahead of any government institutions investigation….until agreements are reached by the international banking institutions on “disclosure” are reached the “thieves” have a free for all.

    Even if western banks reach agreement doubt if eastern banks will agree.
    It is for BOG (bank of Guyana) to monitor money movements….I question their ability/integrity to do so…..BOE monitors all banks operating in UK accounts and there are rules and regulation on how banks operate internally.
    Externally there is no way to monitor money movement as its mostly electronically and not legally possible….
    My issue is with BOG and its ability/integrity.

    Don’t trust the governors/CEO

  • Clyde Duncan  On April 19, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Albert: “Secondly, Suriname invested a similar sum in some gold refining project.”

    I know you are aware of Globalization and the benefits that flows from that ….??

    Well, it is not an either/or thing – check out the clip below:

    The Dubai-based Kaloti Precious Metals has opened its first gold refinery outside the UAE in Suriname, the smallest sovereign state in South America, with an annual capacity of 60 tonnes expected.

    The Kaloti Suriname Mint House, launched in Feb 2015, is a joint venture that includes the Suriname government and local gold traders.

    Kaloti, which has been importing gold from Suriname since 1996, expects the new facility to increase supplies to its Dubai operations.

    Kaloti will also carry out melting, assaying, vaulting, bullion trading, distribution of coins, medallions and investment bars, besides undertaking global logistics for the international transportation of the precious metal from its Suriname factory.

    The facility would source gold from Suriname, neighbouring Guyana and French Guiana besides other countries on the continent.

  • de castro  On April 19, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Gold was a commodity that government held as security for money printing
    Romans used it in coinage until it became more valuable than currencies…..
    paper money soon replaced it.
    Today its worded “quantative easing”….money printing.
    We are in the electronic age of money.

    Am no economist so can offer no explanation why “money printing”isn’t
    devaluation… no banker either….to argue the pro-cons of printing
    more paper money.

    What I do know is BOE does not hold Gold as a reserve for money printing.
    It was all sold off when BOE decided to “float” pound on world markets.
    Not sure if USA sold off their reserves as well leaving China with more $
    reserve than value of us gold reserve.

    In world markets “gold” is more volatile than currencies…maybe that’s why
    central banks have liquidated their gold reserves..its lost it lustre.

    Google gold for more info.

    What has taken up slack in gold is the “trade weigh indices”… the markets.
    Check out trade weigh index on google.

    Today pound = €1.38 = $1.50 follow these three musketeers and you get
    the drift on how well/badly some countries are doing… is the pulses of nation states.

    Our world has changed
    Is changing
    Will change

    Hopefully for a more equal/prosperous one.
    My spill

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