A gov’t hotel financed by taxpayers is a waste of money

Dear Editor,

I am delighted that the Government has ‘stepped-up’ (see SN letter captioned, `Step away from Marriott and step-up to Mahdia’, July 13, 2010) to provide relief to the residents and community at Mahdia (SN article, `Gov’t offers free house lots to Mahdia fire victims, 7-17-2010). This is a useful start, as the community needs a spread of public goods, including upgraded police and fire prevention services, among other requirements.

The private sector will build hotels in Guyana when there is sufficient demand to generate a financially viable business of that type.  Of course, government could speed up the process by providing tax incentives to investors and the government will not have to finance this deal with taxpayer money. The expanding gold industry, which is a main pillar of the Mahdia community and the national economy, warrants such tax intervention.

In contrast, a government hotel financed with taxpayer money—such as a Marriott Hotel— is a waste of taxpayer money, largely because the role of government is not to be in competition with the private sector. This is a clear violation of that principle and it is unjustified. Furthermore, if the government thinks we need a five-star hotel in Georgetown, then it can provide tax incentives for the private sector to build, own and operate such a facility.

This approach will be many times better than having the government being distracted by activities with which they are not familiar. Could you imagine the government preparing meals, providing hotel services, among other support services on a daily basis for the next 5 to 10 years or longer to tourists and business people? I would surmise that managing the hotel on a daily basis is beyond government’s expertise and experience; and in these businesses, experience and expertise, and the timely delivery of goods and services in a courteous and professional manner do matter. Finally, if it is true that the private sector is the engine of economic growth, and the government truly believes this axiom, then here is a clear opportunity for the Government of Guyana to step away from building hotels and have the private sector step up through appropriate incentives.

Yours faithfully,
C. Kenrick Hunte

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