Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Finance Ministry favor Packer over Dhammika

The tax concessions granted for international gambling tycoon James Packer by the Ministry of Finance are even better than the tax concessions offered for the Sri Lankan gaming mogul, the Secretary to Ministry of Transport Dhammika Perera, reports say.

A personal grudge between the Secretary of Finance Ministry Dr. P. B Jayasundara and Dhammika Perera is heard to have caused the situation. Dhammika had launched a huge media campaign to remove Jayasundara from his respective post and gain his position.

However, according to the word spreading among the field if James Packer arrives in Sri Lanka Dhammika Perera will fall into status of a ‘Lilliput’.

In the cold war between James Packer and Dhammika Perera the Ministry of Finance is presumed to be favoring Packer. This was revealed in a debate at the parliament yesterday (04).

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake raised the issue in Parliament having circulated a letter sent by Finance Ministry Director General K.M.M. Siriwardene to the Chairman of the Board of Investment (BoI) which contains information on tax concessions proposed to be offered to James Packer’s Australian company, Crown Ltd.

According to JVP, the government has granted ‘unlimited tax concessions’ for a company from which tax of 40% of its profits must be obtained.

Pointing out that the Casino company has been relieved from the income tax for 13 years from the starting date, the MP says that the charged revenue from the company after the above time limit is the lessor amount of either 6% or 50% of the hotel industry levy.

Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardane responding said this would be an investment of US$350 million aimed at generating 2,600 direct employment opportunities and numerous other indirect employment opportunities. The minister said there would be a star grade resort with a minimum of 400 rooms.

“It will have facilities for retail shopping, entertainment. There will be fine dining restaurants and meeting and convention facilities,” he said and added that the BoI had been entrusted and empowered to attract investments.

“The government’s target is 2.5 million tourist arrivals by 2016. We are targeting a foreign direct investment of US$ 2 billion. We have followed the legal procedure in giving tax concessions for projects meant to achieve these targets,” the minister said.

He stated that casino businesses have not been identified as strategic development projects in the country.

He also rejected the JVP allegation that the government has allowed the Australian gambling tycoon to establish a ‘small government’ in Sri Lanka by granting him special tax concessions.
However, Dissanayake stated the ‘government is on its knees’ in front of the gambling tycoon by granting him ‘unlimited tax concessions’.

Crown Ltd is one of the biggest entertainment and holiday resort businesses in Australia and they have established business locations in Melbourne, Perth, Macau and London.

Minister of investment promotion Lakshman Yapa Abeywardhana says that the Famous Australian Businessman James Packer has not been given any Tax reliefs to start a Casino project in Sri Lanka.
Minister made this remark yesterday answering a statement made by JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayaka upon standing order 23/2.

He said that the Casino industry has been identified as a strategic development project in Sri Lanka.
Minister further said that the BOI is giving tax reliefs in two ways.

  i. under IRC law
  ii . under strategic development projects Act

Thus the minister said that the above project was approved under the second category.
Minister also said that Govt did not grant any land to Mr.Packer for the project., but a Sri Lankan company.

And he said that No reccomendations have been made by the Govt to give any releifs .

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