Did Anandaraj Pillai get funds fromBasil to construct Hilton Hotels?

It is reported that problems 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, owned by Mr. Anandraj Pillay, the chairman of the Melwa Group, who is accused of giving money to the struggle. 

This project includes Hilton Kandy Resort, Hilton Yala Resort & Spa, Hilton Kosgoda Resort, DoubleTree by Hilton Nuwara-Eliya, DoubleTree Hilton Colombo. Airport (DoubleTree by Hilton Colombo International Airport) and DoubleTree Hilton Negombo (DoubleTree by Hilton Negombo).

It is said that the total cost of this project, which has not yet been completed due to the disruption caused by the spread of Covid, exceeds 100 million US dollars. 

However, it is reported that there is some 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 of this decision, steelimports have completely stopped and Melva manipulates the iron and steel productmarket locally.  

Due to this, the price of iron andsteel has risen exponentially which has had direct impact on the collapse ofthe construction industry and the loss of jobs for those engaged in theconstruction field.  

Previously, iron was imported from countries such as India, China, Malaysia and Korea, and they were sold at a very low price in the local market.

It is said that the foundation for this proposed hotel project was laid in 2017 when Basil Rajapaksa was the Minister of Economic Development. 

It is said that Melwa Hotels & Resorts is currently planning to build several Hilton hotels in India. 

Previous media reports indicated that IFC will provide funding for the first phase of this project, which will be built in two phases.

The first phase of the development includes the 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 Airport with 200 rooms (DoubleTree by Hilton Colombo International Airport), the Hilton Kandy Resort with 150 rooms and the DoubleTree by Hilton Nuwara Eliya with 96 rooms.   

Hilton signed an agreement in April 2017 to manage all three properties. Meanwhile, last year 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, among other planned expansion activities, 57 new rooms will be built, bringing the total number of rooms to 141. 

Meanwhile, our web site published a photo of Anandraj Pillai, chairman of the Melwa Group, entering the presidential palace with the protesters and sitting on the president’s bed. However, so far nothing has been revealed regarding his connection to the struggle. But there is much hype on social media regarding the police evading him and his connection to the struggle.   

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