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NICIL defends cheap lease for Marriott Hotel land

The Marriott Hotel under construction.

The Guyana government’s holding company on Wednesday dismissed suggestions by veteran politician Desmond Trotman that the 99-year lease for land on which the Marriott Hotel is being built is a giveaway to government “lackeys”.

The National Industrial Commercial and Industrial Investments Limited (NICIL) denied that the 99-year lease of the 6.886 acres of land on Battery Road, Kingston, Georgetown to Atlantic Hotel Inc (AHI) for GUY$299,955 per year was preferential treatment. Rather, the holding company said it was just one of the measures that government has been using to attract key investors.

“The lease rate is the same price of GD$1.00 per square foot (plus VAT) charged of the tenants of the Eccles and Coldigen Industrial Estates, all being properties owned and managed by NICIL.  

The terms and rate of the lease are the same as those issued to a private developer over 10 years ago for the said property. The developer withdrew in 2009, following the US financial crisis of 2008,” NICIL said in a statement.

Trotman, who is a member of the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) and a parliamentarian for A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), has already filed court documents to oppose the lease which has been published in the Official Gazette. He wants the High Court to decide what is a reasonable lease price for such a prime plot of land. “I believe it doesn’t do justice to the people of this country that it is another giveaway of resources and as such some challenge has to be established to ensure the resources are not given away to lackeys of the PPP (Peoples Progressive Party),” Trotman has already said. He has noted that eventually the hotel would be transferred wholly to private ownership.

NICIL explained that government has on many occasions issued concessionary lease rates where there is substantial capital investment on the said property and significant positive developmental benefits; the objective being to encourage investment, employment, and income generation.  

“AHI is making an investment of US$60M in development on the said property, which is one of the largest investments on any land in Georgetown,” said the company.

NICIL seized the opportunity to accuse Trotman of being part of a special interest group whose pattern of action is to stymie the development of the Marriott Hotel Project.

“There has been no secrecy or sinister motive behind the lease agreement for the 6.886 acres of land upon which the Marriott is being built,” the holding company added.

NICIL added that during a debate on the Marriott project the issue of the lease charge was never raised.

In June 2012, NICIL submitted to the National Assembly, the Marriott Contract, AHI’s Tax Agreement and the Agreement to Lease, dated 28th January 2010, between NICIL and AHI, in response to questions raised in Parliament about the project.

NICIL said it has publicly advertised for interested parties with at least five different advertisements to date seeking investors, a contractor, a supervision firm, and parties to operate the hotel’s Entertainment Complex.

NICIL restated that the Marriott Hotel Project has huge developmental benefits including the creation of over 250 jobs for Guyanese, once completed, and the establishment of a modern, world class branded hotel that will support the expansion of Guyana’s travel and tourism sector.