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Sri Lankan cardinal condemns Casino village

Colombo, 28 Nov 2013: Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, has condemned the setting up of a casino village to attract foreign investment to the island nation. “The move to establish a casino village will threaten the spiritual mores of even the rural and traditional values still respected in the villages of our motherland,” the cardinal said in a press statement on Tuesday.

The prelate said he was concerned after hearing about a government plan to establish the casino village in Katana area in Gampaha district, some 35 km northeast of Colombo. Since the casino village will threaten traditional values of Sri Lanka, “I wish to express my protest, and condemnation of this move to sell the spiritual and cultural dignity of Sri Lanka for financial gain,” said the head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lankan soil fed by the religious traditions of the world’s four religions is not on sale, it must be told. And I call upon all those who cherish that to protect and oppose this move strongly, and call upon the government not to go ahead with these plans. Development – yes; but not at the price of our dignity,” the cardinal stated in the release.

Last year, srilankafoundation.com reported that the country’s state investment promotion agency had entered into a deal with a Singapore-led consortium to build a tourism city in Katana.

A consortium led by Asian Resorts & Casinos would invest in Katana City Developments Private Limited, the project company. The plan included 200-acre site that has hotels with 2,500 rooms, shopping malls and other facilities that would eventually bring investments of more than US$3 billion US dollars, and create 10,000 jobs.

Under the development plan, Sri Lanka’s main airport will be connected to the Katana City by a Monorail which will also be built by the developers. “This project has been planned to put Sri Lanka’s tourism offer on a par with Singapore and others in this region,” Katana City’s director, Prashanth Koorapati was quoted as saying in a statement. “We are planning to make sure that the concept adheres to a high standard of eco sensitivity and defines itself to show the best of Sri Lanka, not to just copy previous projects completed elsewhere.”

Earlier reports had said that Sun City, a South Africa based firm will build a US$800 million resort complex in Katana. The Sri Lankan Board of Investment is targeting US$1.7 billion investments this year, lower than US$2 billion projected by the central bank, due to weak economic conditions in the West.
Sri Lanka has forecast a five-fold increase of 2.5 million foreign visitors by 2016, generating some US$2.75 billion in revenues.
Source: Mattersindia


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