14 December, 2019

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Unbelievable $1 Billion Tax Breaks: Sydney Casino Man Is Given A Sweetheart Deal To Build A Casino In Colombo

James Packer has been handed a sweetheart deal to build a casino in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, with the government offering hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks despite fierce political and religious opposition to the project, WA Today a Fairfax group publication reported.

James Packer has made several trips to Sri Lanka this year. Photo: Jason South

According to the WA Today; This year the Sri Lankan government rushed through parliament legal amendments to give Mr Packer’s project a decades-long tax holiday, exempting it from at least 10 taxes and levies.  The tax breaks could be more than $1 billion forgone from the Sri Lankan budget over the next decade, sources within the country told Fairfax on condition of anonymity.

Opposition United National Party MP Harsha de Silva said Sri Lanka could lose $100 million a year. “We don’t mind Packer coming into the country, but Packer has to pay tax.

“If he can pay tax at 29 per cent for his Sydney casino, and guarantee the NSW government $1 billion, he should not be allowed to operate without any taxes in this country.”

Crown insists the project is far from a done deal but Mr Packer has made several trips to Sri Lanka this year, meeting senior government ministers, including the Economic Development Minister and brother to the President, Basil Rajapaksa.

Rank Holdings regarded as “almost family” to President Rajapaksa

It is reported that Crown Group and Rank Holdings, Sri Lanka’s biggest gaming corporation, will build a $350 million, 36-storey entertainment complex, including a casino and a 400-bed hotel, on prime real estate in downtown Colombo. The casino is slated to open in 2016.

Rank Holdings is run by Ravi Wijeratne, regarded as “almost family” to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and his powerful brothers.

Mr Wijeratne obtained the lakeside site in 2007 on the condition it be developed into a multi-storey car park. The land was never developed but last month the cabinet announced it had approved a “mixed-development project” on the site.

Sri Lanka’s investment promotion minister said a casino licence had not been approved but Mr Wijeratne, who already holds a casino licence, told reporters: “I will be taking my gaming business to this hotel.”

The partners will reportedly take 45 per cent stakes and other investors will hold the balance. The project is being advertised in Sri Lanka as the “Crown complex”.

But the tax concessions offered to the project, at a time when Sri Lanka’s economic growth has slowed, and government revenue is falling, have sparked fierce political and public opposition.

The complex will be exempt from paying corporate income tax for 10 years, and will receive a hugely discounted rate for 12 years after that.

It will also be exempt from dividend tax for a decade; customs duty on imports; 12 per cent value added tax; 3 per cent nation building tax; the port and airport development levy; withholding tax; and pay-as-you-earn tax for expatriate employees, among other concessions.

The site of James Packer's proposed $350 million resort and casino in downtown Colombo.

“It is a very sweet deal, an unbelievable deal,” said opposition MP Dr de Silva.

“The government changed two laws for Packer so that all the tax liabilities on him have been removed for this investment.”

The minister for investment promotion, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, did not respond to requests for an interview but told a news conference that those who opposed the Crown complex were anti-nationalists who hated Sri Lanka.

“Foreign investment is of great importance to our national economy. Without government revenue we will not be able to maintain the welfare state. If the government does not have money who will subsidise farmers?”

He said the Crown deal was unexceptional. “Packer is not enjoying high tax concessions. He has only been granted 12 years on the condition he develops a mix[ed] development project and creates more than 2600 direct jobs.”

A spokesman for Crown said: “Negotiations on a proposed resort project in Colombo are still ongoing.”

Mr Wijeratne declined a request for an interview by the Fairfax, the WA today further reported.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    This is the best way for the government to ensure that the OZ politicians attend the CHOGM. They will in turn be looked after by Packer

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      Casino King Basil Rajapassa’s ides of “development” is casinos where black money can be made white and Chinese millionaires play games!

      The Sinhala Buddhist modayas and the Moda Sangha should start asking questions from Emperor Rajapassa!

      • 0
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        Rather than protesting women wearing Hijab, BBS (aka Balu Sena)and Maha Sngha should protest Packer and the spreading of the gambling culture in Lanka, which is ruining MANY families today.

        So many Sinhala families have become impoverished due to the spread of gambling culture today. As with corruption – the rot starts at the top and is tricking down will the mushrooming of illicit gambling operations all over the island

        Rajapassa will go down in the Mahawamsa history book a the Casino Raja of Lanka, and Lanka will be known as the Casino of Asia!

        • 0
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          Everyone has a price. Why would BBS and Mahanayakes be any different?

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          Hey DODU you are back? good I will read.

        • 0
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          Hi Dodu, nice to read you are back.

      • 0
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        The Rajapassas should get their priorities right. They are running after their White Sahibs, while turning their backs on their Brown Minorities! Gambling, is breaking one precept, because it is ultimately, stealing from gullible clients, while eating beef is breaking another! Which do you think is the bigger crime?

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      No. Australian Politicians are not easy picking like the Sri lankan kind.
      Australian will attend the CHOGM to hold Sri lanka resposnisble to stop the boats containing refugee flowing to the country, as promised by Mahinda Rajapaksa.
      But this Casino may be a very good gold mine for the Rajapaksa family, and James Packer may have to declare his dealings with Rajapaksa brothers and all the information will be in the Electronic media very soon when media people request these information under the “freedom of Specch law”..

  • 0
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    Hi Colombo Telegraph. How about acknowledging the original source and providing a trackback http://www.smh.com.au. Thanks!

    We have already done, original source is http://www.watoday.com.au/ not the Sydney Morning Herald. Please check the dates. – CT

    • 0
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      CT: I gave the interview to Ben Doherty of the Sydney Morning Herald. Harsha

      Both are Fairfax group publications – CT

      • 0
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        Dear Harsha ,

        you are one of few enduring respected politicians in SL today , what is happening to your grand old party under the current leadership is unprecedented , rumors running high (yet again ) that Dayasiri is to make that fateful pole vault along with some other green party members ! i know your beloved boss the one who opened the doors for you to enter the parliament and you owe him and you are duty bound to protect him , Dear Harsha where would you draw the line ? is there a limit , when can we say enough is enough !!!!! RW seems to take whole srilankan populace for a ride! it’s not much point blaming MR , he would not miss such an opportunity , having RW as the opposition leader is a blessing in the guise for him. Tell me an incident when and where your boss genuinely protested and organize mass rallies? imagine MR being the opposition leader and RW the president , what would be the outcome , i’m sure MR would have succeeded halting the country by not allowing to move forward an inch ( pretty much similar to Egypt )by organizing numerous pada yathras, general strikes, mass agitation campaigns and of course with all important Geneva visits ! Harsha who is fooling who? is it MR , or RW or both fooling the general public ??
        when the majority of the population ( approximately 60%) eat grass as their staple food , some one with authority needs to come out and explain clearly in simple language as to what is really happening in our beloved country ? every thing is covered under the war victory and the fake development , as far as opposition is concerned RW along with his protected old guards are directly responsible what we witness in SL today Harsha ?

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          Sri Lal,

          You brought a good question. What is Ranil doing in UNP. As a UNPer I am confused, Mad and angry at the way Ranil leads the party.

          The ever boring and sick talker cannot talk two sentences to people, giving them courage and confidence.RW is famous JRJ’s Nephew, who knows all the tricks to dump the party after 19 years of continuous losses, but still hang on the leadership.

          Ranil is a walking dead and I don’t know why he cannot understand this. He should have been retired long time ago while going no where. There may be some conspiracy going inside UNP and we will soon know about it.

          We do not want part time, half baked,sleeping, boring and walking dead Leaders.

          It’s time some Manly men rescue the party before it falling into another ditch.

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            Mahela ,

            RW’s plan is very clear , he wants to cling on to the opposition leadership position as long as he can at any cost, imagine what it would be like without the official recognition for this Ra daniel daval Migel traitor !

  • 0
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    If my memory servers me right , James packer’s old man(Kerry ) avoided paying any taxes for the Australian tax department by registering the crown casino in Bahamas.

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    Minister Yapa is talking out of his derrier. Exactly what is his definition of high tax concessions? If he has exempted this tycoon from paying anything not one iota of tax for ten years? Not even the expatriates Packer employs in S.L. will pay any taxes on their income. Put another way if this is low tax exemption then a high tax exemption would be to give the tycoon and his employees working in S.L.a dole out at the taxpayer expense? You would not have to grovel for foreign investment so badly if you got your own house in order. On one will invest in a hell hole full of crime and corruption. Keep messing up and propping up murders and thugs and this is what you get.

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      The reason is Packer’s stake is only 49% and the rest is Rajapakses.

      Monopolise Casino Business among one party, while Killing the rest is the plan.

      Also Casinos are a Respectable way of under cover crimes, murders, drug dealings, black money, Prostitution trade, pimps and illicit imports, and using Tax concessions to import any other Luxuries including Liquors, cigarrettes and vehicles etc.

      Las Kabarayas Blue Diamonds…..here we come.

  • 0
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    Hello protectors of Buddhism BBS,
    Go, stop this happening!

  • 0
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    Wake up BBS, SR and JHU. Where are your minions. who made much ado about Halal and Hijab? What about putting up a show against invasion of the casino culture, where no one but the Casino King is the final winner, and to add to it he does not even have to pay any taxes for his winnings. He will employ his own imported ‘comfort girls’ operate a high-end liquor bar serving the best imported liquor, and bring in all the sophisticated gaming machinery and betting inducements that anyone can think of, and no one to question this audacity. Trying to solve an employment issue with around 2600 jobs seems to be the only benefit to the country, but again at what cost to the future well being of our youth, who get exposed to a high stakes gambling culture. Even the minister in charge is threatening that anyone who opposes it is anti-nationalist. What more is there to say. Priorities and loyalties all mixed up. Welcome to the debacle of Asia.

  • 0
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    Where does so called ponna patriots upholding the Buddhist way of life (so they claim) stand on this? I’m refering to K A Sumansekera (who is Leela of Lee Potter),Hela,Nak,Jim Softly and the rest !

    Where does BBS stand on this Casino development which in turn will bring in mafia chaps,hookers and spoil our countrys culture will the so called ‘maha sanga’ and BBS stand up to this rather than attack Christians and Muslims maybe the BBS and ‘Maha Sanga will not protest as they too will benifit from this casino’s and its related vices ;-)

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      @ Peace Lover, to tell you the truth my Elder Brother, Leela/Dr.Lapatiya is suffering from “mad cow disease” and that is the reason why he is silent now. This disease is also known as “Rajapaksha Disease.

  • 0
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    Go Go halal, Come Come Casino… BBS,SR,JHU (theme song)…..They call themselves PATRIOTIC….

    I am sick of all these.. give me a break please

  • 0
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    BBS like this as Casino will bring “Lady Boys” from Thailand to Welcome in Crown Casino and after work they will go for Worship at Templs.. so the game starts… wow what a world is this… :)

  • 0
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    The Hela Urumeeyas, Modawansas will all benefit from the comfort foreigners who will be roaming the streets of Colombo, giving aids to the youth and strangling them in this curse of SL. Where are the Bodu Balusenas and their stooges, maybe they are all expecting Rolls Royce cars like the the medananda who runs around in the Benz, these saffron ones will be hovering around these areas, not crying to save the youth from the curses of this island.

  • 0
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    It is ironic that every time we hear of this billion dollar deals we keep wondering which unscrupulous politician or reigning family member had their foreign bank account enriched. That said, the idea to make part of Colombo Las Vegas will backfire on those greedy politicians who push for this. With these casino’s we will have MORE crime, prostitution, people in debt, and all the vices you find around casino’s.
    Apart from all this, we have to wonder why the scumbags like the BBS are not putting in some effort protesting the sins that come with gambling places, which goes against their teachings, instead of picking on minorities that are not harming anyone. An indication perhaps they are marching to the beat of this government.

  • 0
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    You have to have your foreign passport to enter. Those Sri Lankans with dual citizenship will be able to gamble with James Packer. Overseas members of BBS, Sihala Ravaya, Ravana Balaya, LTTE, and Jihad will also be eligible.

    Besides the eligibility, the Casino will be a good place to launder black money. I wonder whether SAARC region has similar money laundries. No laundry charges except charges for “scavenging”, electricity, water and telecommunication services.

    But the issue raise by Dr. Harsha De Silva MP needs to be taken seriously. Why make it tax free? Simple answer: A BOI project with US $ 350 million investment in “Tourism” sector.

    To show you how casinos generate indirect employment I add this small story. About 20-years ago I met a taxi driver who made only one trip a day. That was to take a Muslim businessman from my home town to a hotel with a casino in Colombo and take him back home. Journey would start at 8.30 pm and return journey at 4.00 am on the following day. The gambler was highly “religious” because according to the taxi driver he never gambled on “Fridays”.

    • 0
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      By your own account, this is just a short story, but inadvertently exposing the racist element in you. Why bring in ‘pious’ Muslim going to a Casino, except on Friday. Friday is our holy day and yes, all Muslims go to Mosque. That does not necessarily mean he is pious. A pious Muslim prays 5 times a day, not only on Fridays. This may be a good joke amongst friends you know at a personal level, but on the internet it is of bad taste. Shame on The Professional.

      • 0
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        Dear Mr. Marwan,

        Pun was never intended. I grew up in neighbourhood with a considerably large percentage of Muslims. The friendship still continues. Except for a few the rest of my Muslim friends are ardent followers of Islam. I met the Taxi Driver referred to in my comment at a Muslims friend’s place. After reading your comment I phoned him and his advice was to ignore your comment. However, I thought it would be better to extend an apology. And my apologies to you and the Muslim brethren for publishing an incident in a web based newspaper.

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    I think our people got mixed up about this new Casino project. This New Casino is known as ” Deshapremi Casino”. I am sure if this is also an Old kind of Casino, our Gaanu 5 Naanasaara Bebadu Balu senawa, Rawana Balukaya, Singhala Rawaya Balukaya, Champika, Upawasa wansa, Rathana will protest against Govt. until they cancelled the project. this also may not against the Buddhism according to new owners of Singhala Buddhism. According to some of undisclosed conditions in the new Deshapremi Casino agreement, anybody who goes to that Casino should dressed in fully white cloths and observe “Pansil” before start playing Deshapremi Casino. Actually they should observe only 3 Sils out of 5, only 1, 2 and 4. No Local Girls will work in the project and Girls, Beef and Drugs will import from China, Russia and Iran. If the Govt. can change conditions in the agreement, Mervin can supply Ladies while his son and Duminda can take care of supply others. Our People should understand that our Deshapremi King is doing everything possible to take us to the “Ascharya” – “Suba Anagathayak”

    • 0
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      @ Lapatiya,excellent response !

  • 0
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    Is the Asgiriya Mahanayake who opposes casino is also an anti national?

    • 0
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      well as per the definition of people like K A Sumansekera (Leela of LEE POTTER) yes even the Asgiriya Mahanayake must be an anti national working with Leelas lover Sambandan of TNA at the behest of Western countries with NGO funding hahahaahahahahahah!

  • 0
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    Bebabdu Balu Sena is strangely silent about this deal. Perhaps this type of activity is advantageous to the Rata, Jathiya and Agama. Why dont the Sihala Urumaya do another march and hand over another petition. Also the JHU Champika and Gammanpila should be more active to protect the Jathiya from these sinful activities?

  • 0
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    Lapatiya, well explained, this is the truth….

  • 0
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    well SAID sAFA AL MARWA – AND POOR COSTHAPAL KOTHALAWELA WHO BUSTED NAINA’S SUDU POLA ,THE STORY WHICH USED TO BE FREQUENTLY SUNG BY JACK ASS JACKSON MUST BE TURNING IN HIS GRAVE – WHAT A SCREWED UP HYPOCRITICAL COUNTRY WE LIVE IN ……..

    SOON WILL THE ISL OF SMILES WILL TURN TO ISL OF TEARS & ,WITH THAI,CHINESE ,RUSSIAN ,ETC,ETC , BARBIE DOLLS, RUSSIAN KILLER MAFIAS AS OUR OLD PATHALAYAS HAVE NOW BEEN ELIMINATED IN ADVANCE TO MAKE WAY FOR THE RUSSIAN MAFIAS, THEN WILL FOLLOW THE LOAN SHARKS FROM CHINA AND YA MAN ,,ITS GONNA BE LANKAWOOD STYLE NOT HOLLYWOOD — COLOMPURASIA SURE GONNA BE AN INTERESTING VIBRANT shitty SOON…

    GO AHEAD AND MAKE MY DAY BABES……………..I AINT WANNA GET ME TEETH CUT BY A SLEDGE HAMMER ,AM GETTING THE HELL OUT MAA -!MA!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 0
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    Soon after end of the war many Foreign investers were rushing to invest on various projects. But the BOI run by Basil Rajapakse restricted many offers while increasing the minimum deposit to 300 Million Dollars with various restrictions attached, delays on authorizing and with Red tape, thereby discouraging many investors loosing projects.

    Also loosing EU GSP discouraged many investors.

    Now those same investers went to Myanmar,Vietnam, Thailand, Phillipine and Bangladesh who give them better deals.

    Now the Rajapakses are struggling for Investments and looks like Casinos are the only available options.

    My friend was a manager in a Leading Casino who say 99% of the patrons loose their money and are broke so much that my friend had to send them in a casino hired Taxi. Not a penny left to go back home even in a bus.
    This is the true state of Casinos, unless you play slot machines.

    Also now China and SE Asia are Casino heavens and many patrons go there to Gamble while many Sri Lankans could be the patrons for this Packer’s casino.

    What Rajapakses plan to do is to Monopolise Sri Lanka’s Casino business around the Family circle, cutting off the rest and this is the beginning.

    Giving 10 year Tax break is a crime while giving an upper hand against the competitors with no visible revenue to the country.

    Where are our well qualified world famous Advisers, consultants, economists and accountants…….Disappeared…..

    http://tamilseithi.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/family-tree-b.pdf

    Another Sign of a Failed project run by Family Dictator.

  • 0
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    The Packers are Big League ball-players. They know where crooked politicians operate and run the show as Joe Sim saw when Premadasa
    and Pasky ran the show. If James Packer had visited Colombo more than once then the deal as good as done – no matter the ignorance or deception of the Mahanayakas. Packers don’t waste their time unnecessarily. If this Mega Gambling project, aimed more at the Indian mega-buck gamblers, come in the mathata thitha projects will become a joke. Gambling, Liquor, Drugs and Prostitution go hand in hand. Strange ways of bringing in FDI and creating employment.

    Senguttuvan

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      Senguttuwan, Joe Simm was not brought to Sri Lanka by Premadasa or Pasky. It was Sirisena Cooray that brought Joe Simm on the sly with a different plan. When Premadasa realized what Sirisena Cooray’s plan was he got rid of Joe Simm in one day. When Joe Simm had to leave in a hurry he left his entire operation entrusted to his faithful driver Dammika Perera. Today Dammika is not only successful in Casinos but have ventured to purchase Haleys, Delmage, LB Finance, Kingsbury Hotel and a few other Companies. Why Premadasa did not make Sirisena Cooray as PM was for the same fear but when he realised that Sirisena Cooray was quietly building himself, Premadasa got frightened. The rest what happened to Premadasa like what happened to Lalith Athulathmudali the public will never know the truth. These Casino Syndicates have hidden faces and one does not know who the real owners are. Let all Hell break lose in this country as the Moda Sinhala Buddhists deserve every bit of it.

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        Gamini – At that time the Prema-Maru Sira combination was like milk and water. Until Prema was bumped off on what many believe to be an internal struggle, they worked like an inseparable team. Joe Sim held sway for quite a while and Mrs P too did much “business” with and for him at that time. It may be correct to argue Joe Sim had to leave before he could realise his full Sri Lankan project. It was not Gamini and Lalith A on only who vanished but Upali W too – earlier. Somebody should let the public know why Maru Sira was missing when the Thotalanga bomb went off – a UNP event of much importance where the COO of the UNP for Colombo Central should have been there.

        Senguttuvan

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          Gamini – He whom you call the Driver is referred to as the Waiter by others. The same sources believe his rise was due originally to that ambitious crook SBD – when they joined hands to corner the shares of Pan Asia Bank. It is believed he plays Front to the regime now. Why not? After all, the Sinhala village saying is
          when you have the serving spoon serve yourself well (henda athey nam beda ganilla?)

          Senguttuvan

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    Stop complaining guys.

    The country is bankrupt. Must get the money from whoever is willing to invest in whatever form or origin.

    Please leave BBS, Sinhala Ravaya, Rawana Balaya alone as they are empowered only to demolish mosques and pathetic beef stalls. It is against the interest of the ‘Puppet Master’ to let them ‘squeak up’ on the casino issue.

    We are best adviced to get on with it – after all we are only ‘Silly Lankans’.

  • 0
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    Very soon we will see the siblings and offspring visiting the Gold Coast down under to enjoy their commissions.

  • 0
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    I read some where that this can rake in around USD 1B a year and nearly a million tourists.

    If this is the case and the government can ensure that most of this money can stay here there is a case for us, as a country without oil revenues and high pressures on widening trade gap to consider this. We need to embark on the Dubai model of development since we don’t have much natural resources.

    I hope thought that our Sri Lankans don’t get entangled in this social evil.

  • 0
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    @Gonibilla…

    Not only beef stalls, hallal, burqa, even the sandkadapana with a large moonstone at a church in maggona was removed in broad daylight just last week by these maniac balu senas, urumeeyas and modawansas, whilst squinting about these casino which will only bring misery to married women when their men go on a rampage at these casinos.
    Shame on the sangha and pimps of the despot who shun away from reality as they will be given rolls royces and benzes to keep their mouths shut and harass the minority communities with their beliefs and dastardly acts under the name of the Buddha and his teachings, what hypocrites we have in this country today.

  • 0
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    Hey K A Sumanasekera (LEELA OF LEE POTTER) why so quiet on this tell us your views on Casinos and the so called ‘Buddhist way of life of the majority inhabitants’ which you always talk about.

  • 0
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    James Packer recently won the tender to construct a Casino and a Hotel compex in Bangaroo Point in Sydney cove for A $ One (1) billion on a compettive tender. Nor TAX concessions or any other concession. Kames have to pay the usual Taxes, but as his father did he may not pay anything as every thing goes for expenses.
    Colombo Casino 51% belong to Rajapaksa family or Mahinda Namal Basil group and the money they spend to construct this is their black money now going to be white money. When the 51% shares belong to Mahinda Rajapaksa and Co, why not allow 10years Tax concessions for this project.
    On 9th July Sydney Morning Herald carried a front page article about the Colombo Casino and how James packer is geting the 10years Tax concessions. If this Casino is constructed irrespective of our Buddhist traditions and the poverty level of the people, then why should we allow any Tax concessions to any developer and allow the economy to suffer. At present our economy is in very bad shape and all these developments, part owned by Rajapaksa brothers they allow Tax concessions to make their money.
    If the Natural Justice is TRUE many are of the opinion that these ill earned money will not going to be of any good, as it is the blood money they try to save.

    • 0
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      Upasiri,

      Good question. But needs only common sense to answer.

      President Rajapakse’s budget allocation as stipend alone is 2 million rupees ecah day.

      Minimum amount needed to spend per election by any candidate (even for provincial counsil) is 80 Million Rupees. When one party candidate spends 500 times more than what his opponents spend,and with police and security protections and with intimidation, just see where the turning point begins.

      Which party has the money to bribe voters to vote for them, give them various perks for their help, support and vote, give them various contracts, jobs and police protecetion, safeguard them from litigations etc…etc.

      People have come to power promising to help them now serving themselves.
      Money talks.

  • 0
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    This show view of MR regime towards monks of Sri Lanka? Regime gives peanut(wearing face cover by Muslim women)to mouth of extremist monks who are struggling to bite it, regime sibling gulp elephant at the cost of innocent citizens.Well go on. until sri Lank burnt into ashes with religious violence.God may protect our children.

  • 0
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    The corrupt Rajapakses and the corrupt Packer family will have a great time in SL. Sad for the country though.

  • 0
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    Obviously Packer would have bribed the Rajapakses big time because without paying big bucks to the corrupt Rajapakses, no project can take off the ground.

  • 0
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    so,so just you Wait, moda MeHaraK lankiyos,

    yOu v,So0N eating dustbin f0odies.
    you nEver leArN

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