I have written extensively on the surfeit of maladies plaguing our governance. Now, I will be joining some of my most esteemed colleagues in a discussion around the Hotel Facts that are in desperate need of uncovering.
We have undertaken the monumental task of becoming archeologists for truth, and we are honoured to host a public discussion to put our artifacts on display.
We welcome everyone who shares a vested interest in truth discovery to join us at our Hotel Facts Seminar on Thursday at 6:00 PM in the Noor Hassanali Auditorium, The UWI, St Augustine. (The Noor Hassanali Auditorium is housed on the same site as the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES, see map below), on the western side of the main Campus of the UWI, St Augustine, adjacent to, and north of, the Institute of International Relations.)
Rishi Maharaj CEO of Disclosure Today
Moderator – Rhoda Bharath of The UWI’s Dept. of Modern Languages and Linguistics
Date: Thursday, 9 November, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
2 thoughts on “EVENT: Hotel Facts Seminar – 9 November 2017”
Hotel Facts Seminar Report 11 November 2017
I marvel at the public’s disinterest in the current affairs of a state moribund by fiscal, administrative and judicial, structured ineptitude, made apparent once again at the Hotel Facts Seminar, hosted on campus at UWI on Thursday 9th November 2017. It assessed the public / private joint financial arrangement that our ministers plan to sign, which will allow Jamaican, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, chairman and founder of Sandals Resorts International, parent company to Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts to manage two huge hotels in Tobago. That the seminar’s meagre audience comprised a majority of mature adults contrasting the single digit youth representation indicates the tacit acquiescence with which we voluntarily subscribe to the blatant abuses we rant about on social and other media outlets.
Silence is consent. It justifies rape, abuse and theft. It sadly sanctions the audacious disregard for ourselves and the continued enslavement of our labour and our physical and human resources by others. Silence, inaction and voluntary blindness encourage incest, exploitation and lawlessness to become social norms in the same manner of alcohol consumption, prostitution and drug abuse that are now as common as the flu.
We learned from Afra Raymond that the historic, grandiose expenditure of our taxes on the Hilton in Trinidad, the other in Tobago that is now called the Magdalena Grand Hotel and the more recent Hyatt in Trinidad have never tabled a profit nor have they substantially documented social, communal or human benefits that can even marginally justify the continued expenditure on all three structures. One of this seminar’s objects is to show us that our elected officials choose to reinvent that costly tyre-less wheel- tourism- with the same antiquated, farcical promises of its viability. He cited Guardian Holdings and the Massy group as investors whose repayments are guaranteed by contracts with our governments and whose history of indebtedness is not only one of the causes of the hotels’ financial collapse but also (suspiciously) that no audits were ever requested by the Ministry of Finance and its affiliated bodies. Private sector debt repayments alone to our treasury will cancel the budget deficit that increases annually in contrast with the measures taken by successive political manipulators whose cronies are the only real beneficiaries. We gain by being thrust into recessions, forced to pay higher taxes that are stolen and wasted, and gloomily by our being victims of our political choices.
As a concerned citizen, Afra asks our elected representatives to:
• Show us those agreements
• Supply details of its monthly or annual earnings and expenditure
• Make public how these earnings and debts are shared
• Offer maintenance costs, contracts and their respective liability data
• Demonstrate how our human resources are trained
• Supply annual audited reports
• Publicise managerial reviews (and)
• Publish concessionary arrangements and their statuses annually.
David Walker is a Financial Analyst and a Tobagonian, who stressed the corruption evident in corporate finance that never clearly and unambiguously report details that are made public of what monetary, skill training and other returns will accrue to host countries for joint ventures. Mr. Walker, like his 19th century African-American abolitionist namesake, insisted we must demand openness and transparency from our government officials when they sign away public funds. He also insisted that concession details be made public and standard to all local and foreign investors. Small businesses, he reflects, are inadequately supported by financial institutions and they are affected negatively by unjust laws, inflation and hindered to access to the skills needed to advance. Walker provided details of million dollar settlements by Sandals to the government of the Turks and Caicos islands and of another scandal in Antigua in which Sandals wishes to escape its dues and asks for closure to repair the building but not to address its obligations.
His closing recommendations iterated the lack of government audits and he lamented the problems posed by having two different state enterprises: Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago, (UDeCOTT) and Evolving Tecknologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (e TecK) mismanage the existing hotels and that a third enterprise may be given that task for Sandals. The de facto policy of ministers and managements’ withholding information that they have sworn to give to those they serve, ended his presentation.
Richi Maharaj is the current CEO of Disclosure Today, an online platform that offers the public a voice to aid global citizens litigate against corruption. Maharaj confirmed the previous assertions that our administrators avoid releasing data even when charged by the courts to do so. He also explained the myriad mazes of avoidance that seekers of the truth face when they attempt to learn facts about the use of public funds in order to direct others along the path of best practice.
This seminar is the consequence of months of research, probes, interviews and letter writing to public officials who spend billions of our taxes and blatantly refuse to say where the money has gone and who additionally have the temerity to demand and get more.
Please also refer to today’s Newsday report: