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Sri Lanka opposition cries foul over Chinese deals

Sri Lanka's main opposition accused the government Thursday of awarding contracts to a World Bank-blacklisted Chinese company and said it would not honour the deals if it regains power. The United National Party (UNP) said the government had recently awarded a contract to the state-owned China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) for a new port city in the capital Colombo despite the World Bank move. "The government has given this project to a company which is banned by the World Bank due to corruption," UNP spokesman Harsha de Silva told reporters.

Sri Lanka rejects US criticism over rights, democracy

Sri Lanka on Sunday rejected "patently unfair" allegations by the United States that its rights record had deteriorated in the five years since the end of a bloody separatist war. Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris said remarks by Nisha Biswal, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, at the end of a two-day visit on Saturday suggested that she wanted to believe the worst of the regime in Colombo.

Sri Lanka to sack officer over 'false' GDP data row

Sri Lanka's main statistics office Wednesday said a senior official who denounced alleged government pressure to inflate economic growth data would be sacked after he was found guilty of leaking confidential information. Accounts Director H.S. Wanasinghe faced two separate disciplinary hearings after he complained to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and an opposition lawmaker that the government was manipulating data.

Sri Lankan opposition slams Indian PM

Sri Lankan opposition slams Indian PM COLOMBO, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's main opposition on Monday raised objections to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for reportedly accepting an invitation to visit the island's North based on an invitation extended by the Northern Province chief minister. Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran had invited the Indian prime minister to visit the minority Tamil dominated North which was devastated by 30 years of war between Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sri Lanka army.

Sri Lanka suspends final approval for casinos

Sri Lanka has suspended final approval for two casinos involving a total investment of around a billion dollars after protests from within the ruling coalition's ranks, a minister said Tuesday. A bill giving the two separate casino hotels the go-ahead and granting them a 10-year tax holiday was due to be presented to parliament on Thursday. But Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said he has withdrawn the bill, which was meant to grant final approval to the projects after cabinet gave them the green light last month.

Australia's Packer confirms Sri Lanka casino plans

Australian tycoon James Packer on Friday said he plans to pump Aus$400 million (US$384 million) into a five-star gambling resort in Sri Lanka, cashing in on the country's tourism potential. The billionaire, who operates casinos in Melbourne, Perth and Macau and is planning a complex in Manila, said the project on the banks of Beira Lake in Colombo would create 2,500 jobs. Sri Lanka is banking on high-end casinos to attract high-rollers and boost tourist arrivals to 2.5 million by 2016 from the current level of about a million tourists a year.

Australia's Packer enters Sri Lanka with new casino

Sri Lanka approved two investments worth around a billion dollars in giant foreign-funded casinos in the capital Colombo on Thursday, including one involving Australian gambling mogul James Packer. Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said the cabinet granted the projects a partial 10-year tax holiday and approved the "mixed developments", a euphemism for casino hotels.

Sri Lanka hits back at U.N. rights chief after visit

By Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's government criticized the U.N.'s top human rights official on Wednesday for calling attention to accusations that police and soldiers had harassed people who met her during a visit to the country's former war zones.

Sri Lanka's hotels overcharging for rooms

Sri Lanka's hotels are overcharging for rooms in an attempt to cash in on growing visitor numbers after a decades-long war, a minister said Thursday. Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said some hotels had hiked up room rates 10-fold since the end of the war in 2009 without improving service. "Soon after the war, the industry took off and people started investing in hotels. Existing hotels which were charging $50 to $60 suddenly increased rates to $600," he said, describing the rates as "unrealistic".

Queen's summit no-show is 'message': Sri Lanka party

The decision by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II not to attend a Commonwealth summit later this year in Sri Lanka is related to the island nation's poor human rights record, the main opposition said Wednesday. The November meeting has been mired in controversy, with Canada threatening to stay away unless Colombo investigates suspected war crimes committed by its troops in 2009. United National Party (UNP) spokesman Ravi Karunanayake said the queen might have attended the summit "if we didn't have these governance and human rights issues".
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