By Kurt Campbell
The government is moving full steam ahead with its plans to sell the profitable Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.
On Thursday, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said the government wants it sold before the start-up of seven new private hotels in the next two years.
Some eight firms have submitted Expressions of Interest in response to the government’s advertisement for the sale of the facility but Jagdeo declined to name those companies on Thursday, saying will be released at an appropriate time in the future.
During a party press conference at the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic Robb Street, Georgetown Headquarters, the Vice President, who was instrumental in the construction of the facility, supported the decision to sell the hotel now.
According to him, now is the best time because the government stands to make the biggest profit. According to the Vice President, it is a pure business decision.
“Marriott has emerged as a profitable venture today. It is making money.
“So, now it will be best to sell the Marriott off. You could maximise the price you can get when it is profitable and before the seven new hotels that are privately built that are of international brands, come on the market,” Jagdeo reasoned after he invited questions from the media to deal with issues in the government.
Once sold, Jagdeo said the monies earned will go toward paying off the existing loan.
And with anticipation that there will be monies left over, the Vice President said monies will be placed in the treasury to finance other projects in the country.
“It’s a business decision, governments have to be run like a business.
“I thought people would understand… we can take this same money and trigger two three new projects that add to the capital stock,” the VP added.
The hotel was opened in April 2015, following the controversial period of its construction.
Jagdeo reminded the press of that controversy on Thursday and said he is happy that the hotel did not live up to predictions of becoming a white elephant.
It remains today, 100 per cent owned by the government, constructed with a US$17.3 million loan from Republic Bank. That loan was later restructured.
Jagdeo challenged previous reports that the government had to take over the loan because the hotel was unable to service it.
“The fact that (former Finance Minister) Jordan took over the loan…that we were opposed to because we believe it should remain on the Marriott book… had nothing to do with Marriott being unable to service the loan,” he added.
Notwithstanding, the Vice President said he is happy that the same people who maligned the PPP government for constructing the hotel are now speaking of its profitability.