The much-hyped, US$ 3 billion casino city project to be set up in Katana, which was to be an integrated gaming, tourism and leisure venture, has been put on hold, following complaints by the Catholic clergy to First Lady, Shiranthi Rajapaksa.
“The project which was to kick off in early 2014, deemed to be the beacon for Sri Lanka’s economy and handled covertly by the Board of Investment and the Economic Development Ministry, has now been put on hold, following the latest protests that had been made to the First Lady,” political sources told Ceylon Today.
Investment Promotion Minister, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, though not contactable for comment, had told journalists at a recent news conference that no application… …had been made to the Board of Investment (BoI) in this regard.
The Chairman of the BoI, Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera, when contacted by Ceylon Today, said the position was very much the same as of yesterday (Saturday), where no application had been submitted to the BoI, but said what was effectively in place was a Memorandum of Understanding, which had been signed by the promoting companies with the BoI.
The leading developer of the Casino City in Katana is Asian Resorts and Casino (Pvt) Ltd., of Singapore, and its local Singapore-based agent, Koorapathi Global Holdings (Pvt) Ltd., which was to design the buildings for the complex. The project was to come up on 80 hectares (200 acres), making it the region’s largest integrated casino resort complex.
The project entailed the construction of five casinos, which were to be developed by specialist casino operators on 25 hectares, an exhibition and convention centre spanning a hectare which were to be operated and managed by the two Singaporean companies, while there were some other infrastructural projects which were to be built by a locally registered company named Katana City Developers (Pvt) Ltd., which also has a large quantum of foreign shareholding, which was to develop 28 hectares of the entire extent of land by building lakes and landscapes, restaurants, villages, elephant stables, monorail, transport and other necessary infrastructure such as water, power and sewerage.
Many attempts to obtain comments from Katana City Developers (Pvt) Ltd. and Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, in this regard, proved futile as they did not answer the telephone.
(Courtesy: Ceylon Today)