Green light from P’ment for other two mega integrated projects
By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Our Lobby Correspondent
Gazette notifications on two more mega integrated leisure projects at Justice Akbar Mawatha and D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha proposed by John Keells Holdings (JKH) and businessman Ravi Wijeratne, whose partner is Aussie gaming mogul James Packer, were passed in Parliament yesterday with a majority.
With Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunge seeking a division by name, 112 members voted in favour of JKH’s Waterfront Properties Ltd. Forty-four members voted against the project, including Minister of Technology and Research Patali Champika Ranawaka and MP Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero, both representing the Jathika Hela Urumaya, which is part of the ruling coalition. Waterfront’s strategic development project was Gazette Extraordinary 1847/36.
The second item on the agenda, Gazette Extraordinary 1847/37 describing Lake Leisure Holdings Ltd. by businessman Ravi Wijeratne, received 109 votes in favour while 44 members stood against.
Lake Leisure intends to form a joint venture with Australian casino mogul James Packer and the project ‘Crown Sri Lanka’ has been the most controversial.
During the debate, Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa revealed that the agreement with James Packer has not been signed yet.
On Thursday, the first of the gazettes concerning business leader Dhammika Perera’s ‘Queensbury’ integrated resort, also down D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha, was approved in Parliament with 112 MPs voting for, 42 against and 68 absent.
The Opposition has been vehemently campaigning against planned casinos in these integrated resorts, though the Government has gone on record saying it has not issued casino licences for the new projects.
The UNP proposed amendments to the gazettes clearly specifying the exclusion of any activity in the nature of gaming, gambling and casinos, but those weren’t considered.
Project For Against
JHU explains why it is flashing “Red”
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) yesterday said it had decided to vote against the three gazette notifications permitting the setting up of a mixed development project and flashed a red light at the Government, which was veering off from its stated principles in creating a national economy.