Govt. showing two faces to the country
Dr. Harsha De Silva UNP Economic spokesman
"Without the regulator issuing a licence Packer cannot come here. These licences are 100-page documents and can’t be drawn up overnight, some countries take up to a year to draft them. To add to this Packer has given a draft of the licence he wants, this is absurd"
“Sri Lanka has set a new Guinness world record for being the first government to give tax exemptions and the highest concessions to casinos.
It is against the interest of the country to award such exemptions because the economic implications are vast. The Mixed Development Projects ‘iconic’ of John Keells and the ‘Crown Casino’ in James Packer’s Lake Leisure have no taxes. Even on the face of which it is not difficult to realise that there’s something amiss. Why is it that the people are taxed higher and high end enterprises like casinos are not? People are taxed to the absolute core. This is not the way a government should tax people - there should be more direct taxes and less indirect tax.
I respect John Keells for declining this exemption and maintaining that the tax exemption on hotels is sufficient. This is an act of good corporate social responsibility from a flourishing national industry.
Even in Australia a casino recently opened having agreed to a 29 percent income tax, and the Australian-born James Packer who has failed to obtain exemptions there, has succeeded here. If John Keells has waived the exemption then why exempt only him?
We should not let these regulations pass. It will be discussed under the Strategic Development Act in parliament and must be voted against and defeated.
All countries have laws which strictly regulate casinos and we have such laws too although they are not enforced. Without the regulator issuing a licence Packer cannot come here. These licences are 100-page documents and can’t be drawn up overnight, some countries take up to a year to draft them. To add to this Packer has given a draft of the licence he wants, which is absurd. Even if licences are granted it is under the strict regulatory conditions of the state granting it, not of the casino owner. No such licensing has taken place and until it does, these casinos are illegal.
As of the January 1, 2012 the Casino Control Act makes all casinos without licences illegal, and makes those violating this liable for imprisonment up to 5 years. Without a licence there is no room to have a casino anywhere in this country. So then why has a gazette notice been passed allowing these concessions in the knowledge that they are unlicensed and unlawful?
The government is showing one face to the religious leaders by maintaining that they are not licencing casinos but are at complete cross purposes here, because without licencing they cannot have the casinos.