Apr 25, Colombo: Sri Lanka's parliament today passed the remaining two orders of the Strategic Development Project Act, the controversial legislation, according to the opposition will pave way for legalizing casinos and gaming centers in the country and grant them tax concessions.
Minister of Investment Promotion Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena presented the two orders of the three-part Act for debate in parliament today.
Order under the Strategic Development Projects Act (No.1) was passed by a majority of 68 votes with 112 in favor and 44 against while the Act (No.2) was passed by a majority of 65 votes with 109 in favor and 44 against.
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), a coalition party of the government, voted against both bills while another coalition partner, National Freedom Front abstained from voting.
Sri Lankan parliament passed the first part of the Act Thursday with a majority of 71 votes with 113 in favor; 42 against and 68 absent.
Presenting the Act in the House, Minister Abeywardena said the tourism industry has become a major income source in Asia and Sri Lanka should take the opportunity presented by the elimination of terrorism to tap the market to develop tourism in Sri Lanka as well. He said the government needs to prepare plans to attract more investors to the country.
The government dismissed the opposition claims asserting that there will be no casinos in the two investment projects that would get the green light to proceed under the legislation.
Australia's gaming tycoon James Packer has agreed to invest US$ 400 million to build a 36-story skyscraper which will be known as 'Crown Colombo' in the heart of Colombo as a mixed development project to be opened in 2016.
A similar development by the diversified conglomerate, John Keells Holdings (JKH) to build a multi-function resort at a cost of US$ 650 million has already received the cabinet approval and will be developed under the Strategic Development Project Act.