Dislocated owner of the Liquidation Centre, Ram Mirchandani tonight called on Government to settle its outstanding debt with his family.
In an emotional outcry this evening at a townhall meeting at Copacabana to discuss details of the proposed Hyatt Hotel, which will be built on the property that formerly housed the Liquidation Centre, Mirchandani pleaded with Government to pay the money owed for its compulsory acquisition of his beachfront land, which is to be used for the construction of the Hyatt Centric Hotel.
Government took over the Liquidation Centre on November 18, 2019, after its owners had failed to vacate the building by November 15, as ordered.
The company had written to Government asking for an extension until January 2020, but it was rejected on the grounds that there had been more than enough time to complete the relocation.
Government subsequently took control of the building and seized the remaining stock the next day.
“When is the Government going to pay? If they are not able to pay right now how can they do this structure they are planning on. I need answers,” the visibly upset owner said as his wife and co-owner Asha ‘Mrs Ram’ Mirchandani listened attentively from the front row.
“I need to know who is going to pay. Is it Mr Maloney or is it Government? We have heard nothing. They have taken away my property, they have taken away my business, they have destroyed us totally and they have not given us a penny neither have they given us any assurance at all!
“We need to know when we are getting paid…or is this a free for all…I need answers. It has never happened before in Barbados and I hope it never happens again. We are hurt, we are painful, we are terribly under pressure. They have taken our business and we have lost our business. We need to know if we are getting paid or if this is a trick. If you are going to do something really big why can’t you even do the basic part of it? We need to get paid,” he contended.
However, he was told that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the environmental impact assessment related to the construction of the Hyatt.
Mrs Ram Mirchandani had previously expressed “shock” and “pain” at Government’s decision to close the decades-old business.
In fact, she claimed that negotiations were still in progress up to two days before Government ordered her to immediately vacate the property.
Government and the Mirchandanis have failed to reach an agreement on the value of the property.
“Our negotiations have not been completed in the sense that the valuation was done by the Government Surveyor which is totally nonsensical; he has not taken the open market value; he has compared our value with a property in St Lucy.
“You don’t compare apples with oranges, you don’t compare the property in size,” Asha Mirchandani had contended.
In a statement on the matter in November last year, Attorney General Dale Marshall said: “This property was acquired by Government through the compulsory acquisition process of Parliament, with the notice to acquire having been served on the owners since March this year. This property forms part of the tourism footprint identified by the Mia Mottley Administration for a number of hotel developments, including the new Hyatt.
“While Government now effectively owns the property, the process of compensation has not been completed. However, discussions have been on-going between the Government and the previous owners, with a commitment to pay as soon as agreement has been reached.”