COLOMBO (AFP) -Sri Lanka’s new government Sunday declared Australian billionaire James Packer unwelcome in the country after the gaming mogul pulled out of building a luxury resort following a ban on new casinos.
Packer’s Crown Group on Friday abandoned plans for the $350 million development, which would have included a casino, after the government also withdrew generous tax concessions granted under the previous regime in efforts to turn Colombo into a regional gaming hub.
“Packer says he will not come. Who asked you to come?” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a statement released by his office. “Please don’t come – not in this lifetime.
“We need only good investors… we don’t want an economy relying on casinos,” he said according to a transcript of a speech released Sunday, a day after it was delivered.
President Maithripala Sirisena swept to power this month backed by the country’s influential main party of Buddhist monks, who had strongly opposed plans to lure gaming companies to the Sri Lankan capital.