By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] –The Guyana Marriott Hotel will open its doors for business on April 16, 2015 despite numerous attempts by the Opposition to block construction of the internationally recognized brand, according to Chairman of NICIL, Winston Brassington.
He told a news conference on Thursday March 12 at the Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown that although NICIL had to fund the project, it is not the money of taxpayers that is being used.
“NICIL has had to fund, on an interim basis, a portion of the expected private financing. The alternative to the temporary investment of additional funding from NICIL would have been the halting of the construction of the hotel with the consequential and probable loss of Marriott’s engagement with the project, the risk of the contractor taking legal action and substantial escalation of the costs to complete the project,” Brassington explained.
He is hopeful that the matter will be resolved soon which will pave the way for the release of the remainder of the funds, after which NICIL will be reimbursed.
So far NICIL has invested approximately US $16M in additional funds from its own resources to ensure the completion of the hotel. These funds will be reimbursed once the legal challenge to the mortgages is discharged.
“The additional funds advanced by NICIL as interim funding are NICIL owned funds, which are not derived from taxes, but are the proceeds from the sale of investments owned by NICIL or dividend returns from NICIL investment”, Brassington stressed.
During the initial stage of construction, financing from Republic Bank Limited (RBL) of US$27M and equity investor of US$8M were committed but the disbursement have been partially delayed due to legal actions. The bank had initially disbursed US$15.25M of the $27M loan that was agreed to, but no equity disbursement was made due to another legal that was filed by A Partnership for National Unity, (APNU) Member of Parliament, Desmond Trotman in December 2014, opposing the passage of the mortgages from Atlantic Hotel Limited (AHL) in favor of RBL.
Publication of the mortgage was the final steps and is “part of the security package required by RBL for the conclusion of the debt financing, the opposing to the mortgages has effectively served to partially delay the disbursement of the US$27M financing from the syndicated group of lenders led by RBL,” Brassington further explained.
The Hotel is faced with another blow since the management of its Entertainment Complex and Casino, investor company ACE Square Investment Ltd, has opted not to operate the Casino due to the risk of being both joint investor and operator of a Casino in a country where Anti-Money Laundering Legislation continues to be absent.
The Casino will now be operated by the Marriott. This section will employ some 200 persons and is expected to be open before the end of 2015. Thus far, a total of $52M has been expended on the construction aspect of the hotel.