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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Public Monies on Marriot Hotel Be Halted Until Approval by the National Assembly

Hits: 3126 | Published Date: 17 Dec, 2012
| Speech delivered at: 32nd Sitting- Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Odinga Lumumba, MP

Mr. Lumumba: Mr. Speaker, I stand here today in opposition to this motion. I think what we have here today is a difference in approach to development. Before I get there, I have a lot of respect for Mr. Harmon, but I want to say that I am glad that Mr. Harmon did not represent Guyana during the battle for independence. Mr. Harmon stood there this evening and he said basically, I remember when Burnham and Jagan sat with the British, when the British asked Jagan and Burnham, “Are you capable of running Guyana? Mr. Harmon would have said, no! He would have said no. I have never seen such ideological representation of neo-colonialism like tonight.
Mr. Harmon is saying to us that we should not have a Marriott, we should have a little one, we must not think far and we must not think big. Mr. Harmon is saying if I am going to school I must not wear white sneakers, I must wear a brown one – that is what he is saying. I do not understand.
Mr. Speaker, NICIL has submitted historically, all of its annual documents to this National Assembly. We have submitted reports and reports on all of our projects. This Government does not have any phantom deals. The only phantom deal I know of and the Minister of Finance referred to the ten years of phantom, ten years of the people’s money being misspent, ten years of someone walking in a bank or a vault with a crocus bag and fetching out the taxpayers’ money with no report. [Interruption]      [Mr. Ali: Who was the Minister?]        The man that got away – Steve McQueen...
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, it is 9.15 p.m., there are four other Members to speak and we need to leave here early.
Mr. Lumumba: Mr. Speaker, when we talk about abuse of the public trust, the PNC/APNU cannot talk about public trust. The sale of Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) - no open bid, US$15 million; $1 billion left back, half billions in property. The Managing Director of one of the entities was to be the General Manager of GT&T after and poor Mr. Harte had to tell him: “Do not be stupid!”
If you are dealing with development, there are things that you have to put in place, a modern airport, a five star hotel etc. When Brasilia started in Brazil, it was jungle, they started from nowhere. When I first went to China, the only modern hotel they had in Shanghai was the Marriott.     [Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon: What year was that?]       You would not know, you were a soldier, you went in the bush.
The Opposition have been elected to protect all the electorates, including theirs. They have a right to ask questions and we must give them answers. But the Opposition or those elements in the Opposition, does not have the right to use this Assembly as a lobbying forum. I believe that in the heart and soul of Mr. Ramjattan, he needs to tell us, he needs to come clean, he needs to say...      [Mr. B. Williams: Speak to the motion.]        That is to the motion. I am saying that the motion is improper because it is a lobbyist effort. Mr. Ramjattan must say, “Am I the personal lawyer of Mr. Badal? How much money did he give us for the campaign and what was the nature of the discussion before the cheque was presented to the AFC? He must do that. I am saying to Mr. Ramjattan, let him take a ... like Minister of Home Affairs, Minister Rohee...
Mr. Speaker: Is it a Point of Clarification or...
Mr. Ramjattan: Well no, it is misinformation and they are talking about... and Mr. Badal is not here either. He is...
We cannot do anything in this place. They are just going to thrust that on us – that we are collecting money from some lawyers.
Mr. Lumumba: Mr. Speaker, I asked a question.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Lumumba, Mr. Ramjattan denies it and unless you have any basis or any documentation or anything to support your argument I advise that you move on.
Mr. Lumumba: With due respect to you, Mr. Speaker, I asked a question. I am asking Mr. Ramjattan is this thing makes sense. Did he, from a personal or political capacity, receive any…? That is what they ask in the American Congress and the British Parliament, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: He said “no”.
Mr. Lumumba: That is the question. If he said “no’, then it is “no”.
Mr. Speaker: He said “no”.
Mr. Lumumba: Are you saying “no”, Mr. Ramjattan? He is not answering. Mr. Speaker, let us look at the relationship of development and Government participation in public and private sector: Brazil preparing for World Cup Football: Many buildings, many projects, hotels, arenas, transportation will be built by the Brazilian Government. They did the same in South Africa. London did the same for the Olympic Games. We believe that in order to move the economy forward it is important that Government set an example.
Construction of the Marriott Hotel is an attempt by Government to fuel the economy and provide leadership in the private sector. There is no other agenda.
This Government has a success story. It is important to note that APNU or the PNC have tried to be involved in public and private sectors in the past and here is their record:
- Upper Mazarooni Hydro Project – Failure
- Clay brick project, with taxpayers’ money – Failure.
[Dr. Singh: Who was the final failure?]        The one that got away, Mr. Greenidge.
- The paint factory
- The glass factory
- The bicycle factory
- Sanata Textiles
- Cotton Factory at Kimbia – Mr. Jones knows that well, he trained there, he worked there.
- Plastic factory at Buxton
- Destruction of the Manganese industry
- Destruction of the Bauxite Industry
- Destruction of the Housing Industry
- Destruction of the economy – 38 % interest rate
Mr. Speaker, this Government, and in particular under the leadership of the Minister of Finance, must be given an opportunity to succeed. We have shown the relationship between development and major projects. There is a fundamental discussion, as we speak, in the American Congress about the relationship of private/public projects and economic development and that is what we are referring to. We do not see the ‘Marriott Project’ as one just to idolise and for political discussion.
Let us look at Detroit. Look at the billions of dollars the American Government put in the restoration of the car industry. The objective was to drive the industry, drive the economy. President Obama is presently asking for billions for the transportation projects around the United State; the objective: to drive the economy.
We cannot have an Opposition whose only role is to say “no”. We cannot have an Opposition where all is negative. We must have an Opposition with the capacity to sit at the table with the Government and discuss the way forward. With this Opposition, one year in Parliament: “no, no, no”. For weeks and months “Let us attack Minister Rohee”. For weeks and months “Let us find something on Minister Rohee”. Let the Opposition focus. They need to focus on what we are about to do. We are trying to bring employment to the poor people of Guyana. We are trying to energise the economy. We are asking you to join us. Instead the Opposition decided that they rather join hands with a lobbyist – Mr. Badal and the Pegasus. I applaud Mr. Badal for what he is trying to do with the Pegasus. He is trying to improve the Pegasus but the construction of the Marriott will help the Pegasus.
Recently we had a motor racing project in Guyana and every room in Georgetown was full, every single room, yet Mr. Harmon is going to tell me that we do not need a big hotel and that we need a small hotel.
Member of Parliament, Mr. Harmon, spoke about Suriname, he spoke about Jamaica. All of those countries have five-star hotels. We need at least one five-star hotel in Guyana. What is wrong with that? What is wrong with having a good hotel? Mr. Speaker, Mr. Harmon travels and he stays at five-star hotels; I know that. He stayed at the Hyatt the other day. Why did you not go into the ghetto and stay? Why did you not go into the ghetto? The gentleman came here and told us that we must not build a five-star hotel but he travelled to one. Why do you not want to stay in Laventille? You should have stayed in Laventille.
Mr. Speaker, I am appealing to my brothers and sisters that for once, at least for Christmas, say “yes”. Just for Christmas say “yes” to the Government of Guyana, thank you. [Applause]

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