Parliament debates $ 159 m Sinolanka Hotels project

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 01:22 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

Our Lobby Correspondent

The latest project which comes under the Strategic Development Projects Act, to construct and operate a 475-roomed city hotel with 90 serviced apartments at a prime location in Colombo 3 in the vicinity of the Temple Trees, was tabled yesterday for Parliamentary approval.

According to Minister of International Monetary Cooperation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning Dr. Sarath Amunugama, who moved the motion, this project will provide the much-needed thrust to entice upmarket tourists to visit Sri Lanka, helping the Government achieve its target of 2.5 million foreign visitors by end 2015 and to have 50,000 to support such growth.

“The project company is Sinolanka Hotels and Spa (Pvt) Ltd., which has come to an agreement with international chain Hyatt to manage the operations of the hotel. Sinolanka Hotels and Spa is a subsidiary of Kanvill Holdings Ltd. The other two shareholders of this project are Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and LITRO Gas. So there are three owners. This was the same project which was initiated by Lalith Kotelawala with the Sri Ram Company. The total investment will be US$ 158.8 billion,” said Minister Amunugama.

UNP MP Harsha de Silva said: “Hyatt is the former Ceylinco Celestial Tower. An investor approached to purchase this for Rs. 9.2 billion. If this transaction materialised, the money would have been used to settle the Ceylinco depositors. Later, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation made an offer for Rs. 6.8 billion, which was also withdrawn suddenly. Now a transaction takes place for Rs. 4.2 billion, which is less than half of the initial offer. Why was it sold dirt cheap? Who is the real investor? Anyway there are four local directors, each holding a share of Rs. 10. With a total investment of Rs. 40, from where did they get the money to invest Rs. 4.2 billion to purchase this building? This clarifies that there is no foreign investor involved here, but the money in the SLIC is lavishly invested.”