Comments /1302 Views / Friday, 25 April 2014 02:10
President refutes allegations casinos to be introducedPresident Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday categorically refuted allegations that the Government has issued casino licenses to the new hotel projects. He said setting up a casino is not a part of the projects. Addressing Editors at Temple Trees yesterday, the President said the Government has given its approval purely to set up a hotel project. “We are not the ones who introduced casinos to this country. They have been in existence since the 1950s,” the President said. “There is no change in the wordings of the Gazette whatsoever when issuing the license for this particular project,” the President said, adding that the Government adhered to the previous Gazette notification. “There is no change in the Government’s policy stance. We will not set up casinos,” the President emphasised.
P’ment approves Gazette on QueensburyFirst of the controversial Gazette notification, which sanctions the establishing and operating of an integrated super luxury tourist resort coming under The Queensbury Leisure Ltd. received the Parliament’s approval yesterday. Disregarding the amendments the Opposition suggested Government moved the motion where acting Leader of the Opposition and Chief Opposition Whip in Parliament John Amaratunga sought a ‘division by name’. Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa told Parliament during the debate that “there won’t be any tax concessions for casinos through this order (under gazette).” Another gazette aims at permitting “Associated facilities” in these integrated resorts replacing “Gaming and Gambling facilities” contained in the prevision version. The Opposition vehemently protested yesterday during the debate, having proposed its own amendments which clearly specified the exclusion of any activity in the nature of gaming, gambling and casinos. With the voting taken place late last evening, 112 Members voted in favour and 42 against the Gazette notification, which is identified as an approval given to start a casino and a brothel in the eyes of the opposition. Around 68 MPs were absent at the time of the vote. Jathika Hela Urumaya, a part of the ruling coalition, MP Ven. Athuraliye Rathane Thero voted against the Gazette. UNP, TNA and DNA voted against. Among notable ministers who were absent when the vote was being taken included Ministers Wimal Weerawansa, Champika Ranawaka, Rauff Hakeem and Rishard Bathiudeen. The Queens bury integrated super luxury tourist resort will consist 500 rooms including high end shopping malls high quality residencies and office spaces/service spaces at its site in D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha, Colombo 10. The project, which is an investment of US$ 200 million is to commence its commercial operations of the within 48 months from the date stated in the Project Agreement with the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka.
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