BMWs to cost Govt. $168.7 million
Casique Hotel to get $33.7M—Frank Anthony

Kaieteur News
January 20, 2007

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Government's plan to import some 20 BMW luxury vehicles for the Rio Summit and Cricket World Cup (CWC) will cost some $168.8 M, according to Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Frank Anthony.

Responding to questions in Parliament yesterday, where a Financial Paper was considered and later approved, Minister Anthony stated that Government will be buying the vehicles from Prestige Motors Inc., the official dealership.

President Bharrat Jagdeo had announced, at his final press conference for last year, that Government was purchasing the vehicles directly from the automakers.

The Minister also stated that the 20 BMWs Government was buying comprised 13 cars and seven Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV), and that all would be resold through a competitive tender process.

President Jagdeo then explained that Government was going it alone, since the local dealer wanted the government to waive 75 percent of the taxes, which could see the Government losing $400 million in taxes.

Government was hoping to use cheaper vehicles and had initially set eyes on those vehicles that were handed over to the Guyana Police Force (GPF) earlier this year.

The government is also buying half of what is stipulated by CWC, but will use buses and other modes of transportation to make up for the shortfall.

Clarifying questions from People's National Congress Reform-One Guyana (PNCR-1G) frontbencher Winston Murray, Minister Anthony said that the vehicles were necessary to provide transportation for teams, officials, media and sponsors (TOMS).

PNCR-1G backbencher James Mc Allister questioned if the government would have saved taxpayers money by adopting what Barbados did.

He pointed out that on that island the International Cricket Council (ICC) is buying the vehicles themselves for the TOMS, and then after the games, offer government the first option to buy the vehicles before tendering.

Minister Anthony indicated that the Local Organising Committee (LOC) here needed to secure the vehicles, and that Government was aiding the process.

It was also revealed during the debate on the financial paper that government was giving Cacique Hotel $33.7 million to complete construction in time for CWC. This was in addition to the $168.7 million government was providing to the Buddy's International Hotel for the same purpose.

Financial Paper 5/2006 covers current and capital estimates totalling $1.7 billion for the period November 18, 2006 to December 31, 2006.

Financial Paper 6/2006, totalling $999.9 million, was also considered by Parliament.

Both Papers presented by Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jennifer Webster, were approved by the National Assembly. (Gordon French)