After attacking NICIL & PPP Govt for pioneering Marriott
After tendentiously mounting incessant criticism for years over the Guyana Marriott Hotel project pioneered by the People’s Progressive Party Government from its conception in 2010 to completion in 2015, the caretaker APNU/AFC administration is now moving secretly with National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) to facilitate the construction of another hotel under the Marriott brand. However, questions have been raised of the legality of a caretaker government approving such a megaproject.
The AC Marriott Hotel will be built to the tune of US$75 million and is a collaboration between NICIL and Trinidad-based Triniyuana Investment Inc (a portmanteau of Trinidad and Guyana) — which is supposedly funding the project. The hotel, which will be located in the vicinity of the Ogle airport, East Coast Demerara, will have some 150 rooms over four floors.
AC Hotels by Marriott is a chain of hotels in Austria, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and North America. The “AC Marriotts” are a notch in service and quality below the Marriott constructed by the PPP Government at Kingston, Georgetown.
The sod-turning for the hotel will be done today at what is assumed to be lands owned by Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) from the Enmore/LBI estate which was closed suddenly by the PNC-led Government in 2017. Last week, while on the campaign trail, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo had assured the 7000 workers who had been fired in the estate closings that the abandoned lands under the aegis of NICIL would be leased to them for agricultural use since most were unable to find employment. However, NICIL did not say on what basis the land was allocated nor whether there was a public tender and, if so, how many bids they received. The construction of the hotel is expected to take some 30 months.
In a statement on Wednesday, NICIL’s acting Privatisation Specialist, Racheal Henry, disclosed that the agency and the CEO of Triniyuana Investment Inc, John Aboud, held lengthy discussions before arriving at the decision to construct the hotel. Since soil tests were declared to have been already been done, it means that the property has presumably already been transferred to the Trinidadian company. No funds have been transferred from the lease or sale into the Consolidated Fund as would, therefore, be held by NICIL – a practice for which the governing parties have trenchantly criticised the PPP for doing in relation to the first Marriott.
In 2012, Khemraj Ramjattan had introduced legislation to block the PPP’s move to construct the Marriott from these moneys.
Henry said that the eagerly-anticipated hotel will have several amenities. Among the facilities are conference, offices and some state-of-the-art living facilities, which, he said, would be integrated into the hotel complex. The additional facility of a casino at the Kingston Marriott was not completed by the PNC Government.
“This is the culmination of negotiations that NICIL had with this company and the result is a major brand-name hotel coming to Guyana so that all can benefit from it as it certainly will boost our tourism and ultimately our country revenues,” Henry noted, even though the brand had already been introduced by the PPP Administration.
Meanwhile, Aboud said that he is excited over the fact that the project will finally be rolled out, stressing that the work of NICIL was significant in ensuring that the hotel project becomes a reality. He disclosed that he was very impressed with the manner in how NICIL and their team conducted the discussion, stressing gratuitously that NICIL sought to secure the best possible deal for Guyana.
The CEO of Triniyuana related that he was eyeing Guyana for a number of years but only moved ahead with the project three years ago. He pointed out that while they do not have major personnel on the ground as yet, he foresees this being a reality in early March while noting that they anticipate construction commencing in a few months.
He added that the hotel site is a strategic location for the future stressing that the hotel’s presence will further enhance and greatly boost the economic activity taking place at Ogle.
The Triniyuana CEO went on to express significant excitement about the deal being wrapped up, stating that the relevant agencies responsible for a number of decisions are expected to make several decisions shortly, thus, further helping to boost the planned construction of the hotel, which he said will help to enhance and market Guyana tourism product immensely.
Prior to the announcement on Tuesday, no other information on the negotiation has been revealed to the public. It is unclear what role NICIL will play in the project and why it was handled by that entity, save for the speculation on their utilisation of GuySuCo’s lands.
APNU/AFC blocked Marriott
While in Opposition during the 10th Parliament, the APNU and AFC had individually criticised the construction of the Marriott Hotel and other major projects undertaken by the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration. ****They had conducted picketing exercises in front of the hotel when construction started in 2011 and also when it was being opened in 2015***.
In fact, during the 2015 elections campaign, the coalition party had talked about selling off the multi-million-dollar tourism flagship project as well as making it into a hospital facility.
Having abandoning those plans, the APNU/AFC had recently come under criticism for attempting to block the realisation a casino centre at the hotel.
The US$58 million Guyana Marriott Hotel was completed in 2015 and was accepted as a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient edifice, complete with hotel, casino and entertainment complex. APNU and AFC had threatened to charge the then Chairman of NICIL Winston Brassington and Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh for their role in securing lands in Kingston for NICIL’s subsidiary AHI to construct the hotel. The spotlight will now fall for Colvin Heath London the present NICIL chair for securing lands for a private developer without funds being transferred into the Consolidated Fund.
In fact, Marriott’s financing structure had depended on a casino and entertainment centre to make enough money to repay up to US$30 million in debts to the banks and other creditors. Currently, the Kingston Marriott is generating a profit and is consistently fully booked. Guyana Times