Did Anandaraja Pillai get funds from Basil to construct Hilton Hotels?
It is reported that doubts have arisen regarding how the money was received for the project of building 6 Hilton hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka by Melwa Hotels & Resorts.
The company is owned by Mr. Anandraja Pillai, the chairman of the Melwa Group, who is said to be a key donor of the 'Aragalaya' movement.
This project includes Hilton Kandy Resort, Hilton Yala Resort & Spa, Hilton Kosgoda Resort, DoubleTree by Hilton Nuwara-Eliya, DoubleTree by Hilton Colombo International Airport and DoubleTree by Hilton Negombo.
It is said that the total cost of this umbrella project (which has not yet been completed due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic), is over US$ 100 million.
However, it is reported that there is a connection between this project and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa's decision to suddenly increase the tax on imported iron to 400%.
As a result, steel imports have completely stopped and Melva holds monopoly of the local iron and steel product market.
Due to this, the price of iron and steel has risen exponentially which has had a direct impact on the collapse of the construction industry, leading to scores in the construction field losing their jobs.
Previously, iron was imported from countries such as India, China, Malaysia and South Korea, and they were sold at a very low price in the local market.
The project was proposed in 2017 and the foundation stone was laid by Basil Rajapaksa during his tenure as Minister of Economic Development.
Meanwhile, it is also said that Melwa Hotels & Resorts is currently planning to build several Hilton hotels in India.
Previous media reports cited that the first phase of this 2-phase project will be funded by the IFC.
The first phase includes th 96-room DoubleTree by Hilton Negombo, the 192-room beachfront Hilton Kosgoda Resort, and the 42-room Hilton Yala Resort & Spa.
The second phase includes the DoubleTree by Hilton Colombo International Airport, the 150-room Hilton Kandy and the 96- room DoubleTree by Hilton Nuwara Eliya.
Meanwhile, in November 2021, the Board of Investment (BOI) said that it reached a $52 million agreement with Melwa Hotels and Resorts Ltd. to expand the room capacity of Hilton Double Tree Hotel in Negombo.
As a result of this investment, 57 new rooms will be built, bringing the total number of rooms to 141, among other planned expansion activities.
'Srilankamirror' earlier published a photo of Anandraja Pillai entering the President's House with the protesters and lying on the president's bed. Although many others have been arrested by the police for their actions after storming the President's House, no action has been taken on Pillai so far. However, there is much dialogue on social media about how the police is looking the other way in this instance.
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