A massive Las Vegas-style Casino resort with a minimum of 400 rooms would be set up along D.R. Wijewardane Mawatha in Colombo, with a US$ 350 million investment, it was revealed in Parliament yesterday.
It is an investment by Australian casino mogul James Packer. The project will enjoy tax concessions for more than ten years.
The government has enacted the Casino Business Regulation Act to provide for such businesses in the country.
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake raised the issue in Parliament having circulated a letter sent by Finance Ministry Director General K.M.M. Siriwardene to the Chairman of the Board of Investment (BoI).
According to the letter, the project will be given recognition under the Strategic Development Project Act No 14 of 2008. It is a law introduced by the government to give facilities for large Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in the country. Quoting from the letter, Mr. Dissanayake said the project would be located on a land belonging to the Government Supplies Department.
The project’s foreign investors are Crown Ltd., of Crown Towers, No:8 Whiteman, St. Southbank 3006, Victoria, Australia and Allinga Pvt Ltd of No:26-03 Centennial Towers, Singapore 039190. They will hold 55 per cent equity in the company. The local collaborator will be M.S. Rank Entertainment Holdings (Pvt) Ltd in Kollupitiya.
The investment will be exempted from the Corporate Income Tax for as much as ten years. It will be exempted from Betting and Gaming Levy and income tax. All project-related imports will also be exempt from Customs duty.
“This is an investment by leading Australian Casino businessman James Packer who recently met higher-ups in the government,” Mr. Dissanayake said.
Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardane responding said this would be an investment of US$350 million aimed at generating 2,600 direct employment opportunities and numerous other indirect employment opportunities. The minister said there would be a star grade resort with a minimum of 400 rooms.
“It will have facilities for retail shopping, entertainment. There will be fine dining restaurants and meeting and convention facilities,” he said and added that the BoI had been entrusted and empowered to attract investments.
“The government’s target is 2.5 million tourist arrivals by 2016. We are targeting a foreign direct investment of US$ 2 billion. We have followed the legal procedure in giving tax concessions for projects meant to achieve these targets,” the minister said. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan perera)