By George Telaveris Questions have been raised about the procedure for casino licensing after the government granted a three-month extension to bids following a request from two of the three companies in the second round.
Bidder Melco International Development-Hard Rock International-Cyprus Phasouri (Zakaki) Limited has informed the government in writing of its disagreement with theextension and has insisted that the original timeframes should be followed.
The initial terms stipulated that final proposals should be submitted by July 5.However, after written memos submitted by two of the bidders, Naga and Bloomberry, the government decided on a three-month extension. The two companies argued that they needed more time to reach an agreement regarding the land acquisition and time to overcome state bureaucracy. However, business circles have noted that the request for more time comes at a time when the real estate market is flush with available land and wonder why the government chose to extend for three months rather than just one. “There is certainly an issue of credibility over the procedure and questions regarding the length of the extension,” a person familiar to the matter told The Cyprus Weekly. A government source told The Cyprus Weekly that the demands of the two companies were discussed in a meeting with government officials and that the extension was unanimously agreed both by the Legal and the Audit Services. The three bidders will need to submit their final proposal by October, while the government aims to announce its decision before the end of the year, in line with the original plan.
However, a government source categorically denied that there was a sightseeing clause in the request for proposal document.
“The clause was optional and we decided that it would have been safer for the procedure not to make use of it in order to avoid any conflict of interest. We already know bidders’ experience and going there would have not added anything new,” the source told The Cyprus Weekly.