September 28, 2016

Invest in areas that will expand the economy

Dear Editor

Lawlessness in Guyana seems to be the order of the day in spite of the new Government’s commitment to aggressively pursue corruption in all its forms. I look forward to the day when the State Asset Recovery Bill is passed so that action can be taken against the many.

I was shocked to read Clifton Bacchus’s defence of his potential Casino on Church Street which is situated next to a Mosque and two Churches.

His first argument shows the lack of morality that is a feature of many so-called businessmen in Guyana.

After indicating he has employed 50 people for the last four years, he states the project enjoys a Memorandum of Understanding with the previous Government for “the grant of certain facilities, including a casino’s license”. Can Bacchus state whom in the last Government his partners, if any, in this Casino.

If there are any, then this is political malfeasance similar to the Pradoville 2 case which is at the DPP and may well be soon heading to Court.

Can Bacchus state who signed the MoU on behalf of the Government?

Additionally, is the hotel being built just to obtain a Casino license given low occupancy rates of hotels in Guyana? Hopefully Bacchus knows that with FATF and the AML/CFT Bill, and the current National Risk Assessment currently underway, the Gaming Board in Guyana will have to address new international requirements for any new Casino license holders.

Remember, a MoU is not a license.

Regardless of Bacchus’s letter, here are some facts why a license should be given to this hotel.

  1. The Marriott was scheduled to cost US$43 million. Instead of US$43 million, the Marriott cost a whopping US$98 million. The only way the Marriott will ever be profitable in Guyana is if it has a casino license. The Marriott will forever be a burden on the People and Government of Guyana without a Casino so that profits from the Casino can be used to cover the debt created by the Marriott.

Why would any sane government, much less Government in Guyana dedicated to transparency, stolen assets recovery, the stopping of money laundering and other corrupt practices, grant a license to a casino masquerading as a hotel, when it has a massive Marriott problem created by the same government that gave Bacchus a so-called MoU.

  1. This building at Oronoque and Church Street, is in a residential area. There is no parking. So to compare the Casino at the Princess Hotel with this new building is outright scampishness. The Marriott and the Princess had to have plans for parking in their upfront designs. Why wasn’t this done for this Church Street Hotel/Casino. This alone would have disqualified the Casino on Church Street. This fish smells bad.

Where will the users of this Casino (if it ever becomes one) or Hotel Park?

Across the street from this so-called Casino is Merriman Mall. One now understands why the Pan-African Group had to resort to meeting with the president and many City Hall officials to protect this land that was given to them decades ago from becoming a Parking Lot. Of course, Clifton Bacchus will say he had nothing to do with this attempt to bully Pan-African Guyana (Branch) Organisation from the Merriman Mall. The Marriott and Princess Hotels were deliberately built in spaces that would have parking.

Who cares about Bacchus’s explanation of Suriname having 25 casinos? This is Guyana and we need to bring back the Rule of Law. Holland has a Casino at its main Airport. This is the Dutch way. New York doesn’t have casinos in the City and certainly not next to churches, mosques and schools. The other arguments put forward by Bacchus echoes the views are morally and economically flawed. For him, the end justifies the means.

It is the same argument used when those smuggling our gold are caught. “Others are doing it”. Where are our religious leaders on this matter? Still sleeping at the trough. Hopefully, Bacchus will invest in areas that will grow the economy not in sectors that prey on citizens and in sectors that are rent and morality seeking.

Sincerely,

Eric Phillips

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