AFC seeking legal advice to halt Marriott-branded hotel project
The Alliance for Change (AFC) is seeking legal advice to ascertain if an injunction could be granted on the grounds of illegality to halt the construction of a Marriot-branded hotel in Guyana – a project the joint Opposition, which holds majority in the National Assembly, views as a waste of taxpayers’ money, especially when the core revenue earners, restaurant, casino and nightclub, will be operated by private individual(s).
Khemraj Ramjattan, leader of the AFC, on Wednesday revealed the Party’s plans, and emphasized that the basis of their decision came from former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, who highlighted the illegal manner in which National Industrial & Commercial Investments Ltd (NICIL) operates.
Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, had said that government’s participation in the project is by way of equity, in the sum of US$4M. That amount is being committed by NICIL, which is the investment arm of government that holds its assets.
“There are certain things that they are doing that are illegal, but it is left to whether a judge will grant that injunction. I don’t really know, but quite frankly as a lawyer, I think we should attempt it,” Ramjattan said.
He related that the AFC will try to pass a motion in Parliament indicating that the Opposition does not support the construction of the Marriott Hotel in Guyana, in the manner it is being done through NICIL.
Ramjattan emphasized that funds being utilized by NICIL for this project, which is supposed to be in the Consolidated Fund, would have allowed representatives of the people in Parliament decide how it should be expended.
“That is the big deception here – they have made a private company as it were, take Government’s monies to do investment, without what is called parliamentary approval, and that is what is unconstitutional,” he added.
Ramjattan believes that the Marriott Hotel project should be halted because “certain golden eggs like the restaurant, casino and nightclub will be given to special friends and family.” Meanwhile, taxpayers will be left with the aspect of the investment that does not generate much money.
“When it comes to occupancy levels, the taxpayers’ money that is going to build the entire superstructure may not have any monies… so our monies will be going in there and we wouldn’t get any profits from that kind of investment, but a special group may very well,” the AFC Leader emphasised.
Recently, in a notice in the Guyana Chronicle, Atlantic Hotel Incorporated (AHI) advertised for expressions of interest for the casino, night club and specialty restaurant at the Marriott Hotel, which is planned for the Kingston, Georgetown area.
However, 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 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.