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Lotus Tower looking for investors 



The Lotus Tower is looking for investors for its 44,000 square foot second floor after a rent agreement with a Singaporean company, backed by State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage, to set up a casino and entertainment area, lapsed with its conditions being unfulfilled.

A Singaporean firm named Kreate Design PTE forged a deal with the Lotus Tower Management Company (Pvt) Ltd (LTMC) last year for the sprawling floor in the tower base. The signing ceremony was attended by Minister Gamage and Arosha Fernando, Coordinating Secretary to the State Tourism Minister.

But three months into the agreement, its conditions–including that the company would secure the requisite casino licence–were not met. A month’s extension was granted on request but this, too, has expired, said Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Prasad Samarasinghe, LTMC Chief Executive Officer and Director.

“The floor is now open for anybody and we will be floating a tender in this regard,” he said. Rent goes at Rs. 500 per square foot and Rs. 100 per square foot for common areas.

Minister Gamage had claimed that Kreate would open Sri Lanka’s “first foreign-funded casino and entertainment hub” at a total input of US$ 1bn over three years. She said business was introduced to Sri Lanka in late November by her and that it would be the largest investment for the country since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All our plans are now ready to put into action as we will deliver what we have promised without any failure,” she was quoted as saying. The Singaporean company had reportedly tied up with a local firm through which it had applied for a casino licence.

Maj. Gen. Samarasinghe later confirmed that the company had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for an annual rental of US$ 1.4mn. Under the 10-year agreement, LTMC was to have received a six-month refundable deposit and operations were to start last month.

LTMC has notified the parties that the MoU, along with the extension, lapsed on May 7. “We will be calling for proposals for a rent model and whoever wants to can bid,” Maj. Gen. Samarasinghe told the Sunday Times. “It doesn’t have to be just for a casino, it can be any model.”

Among the parties who inspected ii is an Omani investor who has previously expressed interest in UDA properties around Colombo; and an Indian investor who is also considering the casino option. The tender has not been advertised yet.

Considerable space in the Lotus Tower has already been rented out to food suppliers and others. And a deal is being hammered out for the management of the revolving restaurant, two banquet halls, six suites and kitchen.

There is a bungee jumping operator and a mega zip-line is also on the cards. All space on the dedicated technology floor is now filled, Maj. Gen. Samarasinghe said. More than 828,000 people –14,700 of them foreign tourists — have visited the tower so far.



Excise officers who kidnapped Beedi businessman remanded




Five suspects including the Tangalle Excise OIC who were arrested over kidnapping and assaulting a Beedi businessman in Walasmulla, have been remanded till October 5 after being produced in the Walasmulla Magistrate’s Court.

The Excise OIC, two other excise officers and a driver from the Tangalle Excise Station and an army sergeant are among the remanded suspects.

The business license of the businessman residing in Maraketiya, Rajapuragoda in Walasmulla expired on June 26.

A team of excise officials including the OIC of the Tangalle Excise Station had arrived at his house on September 18 and seized the Beedi leaves.

Excise officials had demanded Rs.1.4 million from the businessman not to take legal action in this regard.

They had taken the businessman away in a three-wheeler, beaten him up, and then had taken an amount of Rs.1 million by force.

A nearby CCTV camera has captured the excise officers kidnapping the businessman.

Meanwhile, the four Excise officers were interdicted by the Commissioner General of Excise.

The decision has been taken following the instruction of State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.

The four Excise officers were interdicted over the allegations of assault and soliciting a bribe from the Beedi manufacturer for not implementing the law against him for possession of Beedi leaves without a license.

Related News: 

Excise officials kidnap beedi businessman & forcefully take Rs.1mn

4 Excise officers interdicted for assaulting Beedi businessman

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Nandiyas, Sri Lanka’s oldest turns 109




The 109-year-old Magala Kottachchi Nandiyas, a resident of Kappettiagoda in Galle, is the oldest citizen in Sri Lanka, the National Secretariat for Elders confirmed.

According to his identity card, Nandiyas was born on June 3, 1914. Nandiyas, who lives a very healthy life even now, is a farmer by profession.

Although he had only gone up to grade five, he can read and write.

It is said that the reason for this senior citizen’s healthy lifestyle is the toxic-free nutritious diet.

Until recently, he has cultivated potatoes, sweet potatoes, and even cassava in his home garden.

He is a father of four and a grandfather of four grandchildren. The youngest grandson is now five years old.

Nandiyas is fondly called ‘Loku Aiya’ or Big Brother by the whole village.

The beloved wife of Mr. Nandiyas had passed away some time ago.

Although he has recently developed a hearing impairment, his memory is still intact.

Source – Dinamina

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Port City to be ‘Colombo Financial Zone’: President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that a new legislation has been drafted to transform the Port City as the Colombo Financial Zone.

President Wickremesinghe said this in his address at the 2023 Commercial Mediation Symposium at Colombo’s Hilton Hotel, the President’s Media Division said.

The event was organized by International Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre (IADRC).

The President underscored the significance of international trade agreements and the need for Sri Lanka to become a center for alternate dispute resolution.

He urged legal professionals to look beyond Sri Lanka’s borders and specialize in emerging fields like AI, Blockchain and green energy to secure the nation’s competitive future.

“Now we want Sri Lanka to be a center. One is the new legislation which will replace the port city to make it a Colombo financial zone with jurisdiction for offshore activity. The new law has been drafted. And we will see the light of day before the end of the year.”

“Secondly, the BOI will be replaced with the Economic Commission. Which is also looking at the resolution of disputes. We will be entering a number of free trade agreements. We have got one with Singapore. We are about to finalize one with Thailand. We are discussing with India to upgrade the agreement. Talking with Bangladesh. And more than that, we are moving to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). That’s the largest trading community in the world. So this means that alternate dispute resolutions are going to be important.”

In a final call to action, he offered government funding to support learning and expertise development in these new areas, inviting all stakeholders to join in the journey towards a more efficient and forward-looking legal landscape in Sri Lanka.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized that Sri Lanka must position itself as the central player in the region. When examining Singapore as a benchmark, Sri Lanka should strive to match or surpass Singapore in various aspects, except for cost, where it should maintain a competitive advantage.

This approach is crucial because there exists a noticeable void in this region, which Sri Lanka can effectively fill if it acts swiftly.

“This is the key lesson to be derived. Furthermore, it is essential for all lawyers and individuals involved in legal services to broaden their perspectives and explore opportunities beyond their current scope,” the President added.

Meanwhile, he acknowledged the long-standing reliance on trial courts and stressed the importance of embracing alternate dispute resolution methods.

Highlighting the government’s commitment, he mentioned the establishment of the Alternate Dispute Resolution Center in 2018 and expressed support for its continued growth.

President Wickremesinghe urged the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Investments to collaborate on supporting these initiatives.

“Alternate dispute resolution, arbitration, both have a long way to travel in Sri Lanka and that’s our problem. We have to first find ways of how we can adjust to this process. You need a change of culture. Change of culture where disputes can be resolved in the shortest possible time. Which means we are in a way wedded to the old concept of the trial court? Whether we have a domestic inquiry, we all want to follow the same procedure. I don’t know why. But nevertheless, this is one of the challenges that we have to face.”

He emphasized that success in dispute resolution was crucial for Sri Lanka’s aspirations to be an outward-looking economy.

The event was attended by Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, State Minister Anuradha Jayarathne, Judges of the Supreme Court, Attorney General, Former Attorney Generals, Retired Judges of the Supreme Court, Resident Representative of UNDP Azusa Kubota, Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, IADRC Chairman Dr. K. Kanag-Isvaran, Director & Secretary General of IADRC Dhara Wijayatilake, legal professionals and the representatives of reputed companies in Sri Lanka.

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