Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) General Secretary and Minister Champika Ranawaka a strong opponent of the Casino Bill at this week’s Cabinet meeting, made a fervent appeal to the authorities urging them to avoid making Sri Lanka a Casino and a Heroin Hub.
He told a media conference today there were signs that instead of the five-hub concept propagated initially by the UPFA government it was turning more towards anti-Buddhist and anti-social forms of development.
The JHU praised President Mahinda Rajapaksa for putting the gazette on hold but said that powerful government officials were going ahead with their agenda to make it a success.
The minister said the JHU would continue to oppose the Casino Bill and urge the people irrespective of party affiliation to join together to stop bringing the scourge of casinos to this country.
He said government revenue had reduced because of subsidies.
“Therefore there is a major budget deficit. So some state officials backed by powerful businessmen think that bringing casinos would help the government to increase its revenue,” he said. “We can see that these state officials are more powerful than ministers. Through the Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dekma we wanted to at least control this menace. There were 14 casinos some time ago and now it has reduced to four, which is a good sign,” the minister said.
He said they are doing everything to avoid future conspiracies head by black-money businessmen against the government.
“They can influence politics or even the media and these are bad signs for the future. What they do is make black money, white. Only in Sri Lanka that efforts are being made to set up casinos in the capital while in other countries they are located in islands or thousands of kilometers away from the main cities,” the minister said.
Western Provincial Minister Udaya Gammanpila said 100 years ago Sri Lanka was known as the Liptons Tea Estate but in few years’ time it might be called the James Packer-colony.
He asked how the government could give relief to casinos and make them tax-free for 10 years.
JHU parliamentary group leader Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera said that it was neither the Cabinet nor the President but some state officials who were powerful enough to decide on the Bill. (Supun Dias)
Pix by Kushan Pathiraja