Packer’s Crown Group abandoned plans for the $350m 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 report.
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.
Prime minister Wickremesinghe named Perera as a businessman who had received favoured treatment from the previous regime and vowed to take back any ill-gotten assets.
Finance minister Ravi Karunanayake said he would give those existing casinos, thought to number about five, a deadline of mid-April to pay a flat fee of one billion rupees ($7.6m) to remain in business.