May 07, 2017 News
After two years of construction, the US$52M Chinese built Marriott Hotel is now in need of millions of dollars in repairs.
Kaieteur News understands that the repair bill is estimated to be about US$5M.
The cost of repairs for the hotel will fall on the shoulders of the Government. It is an expense that was not budgeted for. Government officials were unable to confirm if a decision has been made to take a loan to cover the needed repairs throughout the hotel.
Compounding the situation is the fact that the Government is also saddled with sustaining a loan from Republic Bank (Trinidad) in excess of US$17M. This newspaper also understands that there are intentions to move ahead with the construction of the Entertainment Complex of the Hotel. This is estimated to cost US$12M.
The Marriott Hotel has been deemed over the years as a monument of corruption, and a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money.
Speaking yesterday to the matter, Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin, stressed that the government is keen on setting the nation on a course of prosperity. He noted, however, that it has inherited troubles/stumbling blocks like the Marriott Hotel.
Gaskin said, “We have inherited some situations or some entities that are a strain on the Treasury and indeed Marriott and even the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) are examples of this. But we have to be responsible. These are assets of the state which we have to manage.”
“We can’t continue to say that these are situations that we are not happy with. We have a responsibility to manage these situations and we have to do so in a way that takes into consideration what is best for the people of this county and at the same time we have to ensure we don’t do anything that would jeopardize the value or the viability of the assets.”
Gaskin added, “It is quite complex…In the meantime, these things are causing problems. There are lots of other things which could be done with the money we have to go look for and reserve to take care of these matters and they could have been put elsewhere.”
The Business Minister said that if indeed US$5M is what will be needed to do repairs, then one should question the liability of the contractor. Gaskin called into question whether Government would be able to recover this money from the contractor who is usually held accountable for repairs of defects during a certain period of time.
This is normally stipulated in the contract. The year-long defects reporting period ended in April last year.
In the meantime, the government and Shanghai Construction Group (SCG), the contractor of the Marriott Hotel, remain at a standoff. Workers of the entity which is owned by the Chinese Government have been claiming that they are owed some US$5M for works done on the Hotel. The money is yet to be paid, and the government is insisting that it owes SCG nothing.
It was only last year that Finance Minister Winston Jordan said, that if the price is right, Government would be willing to rid itself of the Marriott Hotel.
At the time, Jordan was asked to provide an update on what Government has decided to do with the Hotel it inherited from the previous regime.
He recalled that the government has made it clear on several occasions that it has no intention of being competitively involved in the hotel industry.
When asked about the possibility of Government selling the hotel, Jordan responded, “If Government gets a credible offer or buyer, it will divest itself of the hotel.”
The Finance Minister said that Cabinet has established a subcommittee that is looking at the issue and the best way of relieving the government of any responsibility in owning the hotel.
He noted that the Committee includes members such as Business Minster, Dominic Gaskin and Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma.
The Finance Minister reiterated, “Government is determined not to own the hotel.”
Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma, has since expressed the belief that any serious attempt to sell the Marriott Hotel would perhaps see the Government pushing for the completion of the hotel’s casino and entertainment complex.
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