Separation of casino, nightclub, restaurant at Marriott Hotel…A financial scheme to steal Guyanese money-APNU
…taxpayers will own the unprofitable portion—AFC
APNU’s Parliamentarian, Joe Harmon, has blasted the government’s decision to separate Marriott Hotel from its main revenue earners.
Last week, in a notice in the Guyana Chronicle, Head of Atlantic Hotel Incorporated (AHI), Winston Brassington, advertised for expressions of interest to run a planned casino, night club and restaurant at the Marriott Hotel, which is planned for the Kingston, Georgetown area.
The move by AHI, the company handling the project on behalf of Government, has raised questions as the three are considered to be the money spinners of any hotels. Government did not immediately offer any explanations why it took the decision.
The project has been objected to by local hotel operators who are arguing that it will close them down and that there is no justification for adding more rooms when there are not enough visitors to Guyana.
Harmon yesterday lashed out at the decision, saying that the money being invested in the hotel should have been spent on something else that can benefit the public.
“Instead of investing into the Marriott, the government should have built a new harbour bridge which is very critical,” Harmon stated.
Harmon believed that the move is in keeping with a “bigger and grander” financial scheme to steal the public’s money.
He said that the move will take the project into a deeper financial maze. “To further divide the sectors of the hotel would make it more difficult to trace the financial aspect of the project,” Harmon said.
The most unprofitable part with low occupancy will be funded with taxpayers’ money, Head of the Alliance For Change, Khemraj Ramjattan said. The component part that is akin to the goose that lays the golden egg, will go to certain friends, family and cronies, he added.
That is corruption, Ramjattan said.
Publisher of Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall, expressed disgust at the move. According to Lall, the money which is being placed into the project is taxpayers’ money. He said that in the first place the Marriott venture is impractical when one considers the low occupancy rate in the hotel industry.
Mr. Lall said that he is commenting on this issue because he is a taxpayer and the investment is largely taxpayers’ money and he therefore has money in this project.
Lall said that one should not invest so much money in a hotel. It is impossible to recover that money in the near future. Further, the decision to separate the casino, the restaurant and the night club is to add insult to injury.
This is a case of siphoning off the cream of the business even before the project is launched, Lall said.
According to the advertisement last week, Brassington said that the casino, night club and specialty restaurant that would exist within the Marriott Hotel complex will not be included in the hotel management.
AHI wanted “expressions of interest from reputable organizations to outfit, operate and maintain” the three, including the casino, night club and restaurant.
The advertisement stipulated that each may be operated individually or collectively, and that the first preference would be individuals or organizations already involved in the business.
AHI said that it was “looking for operators who have already established themselves as a brand, regionally or internationally and can demonstrate extensive knowledge of the particular field of operation.”
The casino would be built on 1,372 square metres with more space on offer for the restaurant and nightclub.
The advertisement brings more questions to the fore about the entire Marriott deal.
Some observers have said that the separation of the three is like giving away the goose that lays the golden egg, since the main revenue earners of the project, the casino, the night club and restaurant, will now be outsourced.
According to the current laws, no facility with less than 200 rooms can operate a casino. The Marriott is projected to have less than 200 rooms, but the government has already signaled intentions to grant permission for a casino.
Even more interesting, the hotel has not yet been constructed, and the main revenue earners are being divested ahead of construction.