By Shamindra Ferdinando
Many an eye brow has been raised over the recent detention of plans of the Shangri-La Luxury hotel complex in Colombo by the Customs due to the failure on the part of the investors to pay duty.
For want of prior instructions from the Finance Ministry re regards the hotel project, the Customs hadn’t been aware of the duty free status of the project ,considered one of the largest post-war investments.
In spite of over $ 400 mn project for a 7-star hotel being one of the mega projects, which had the full backing of the government, the Customs hadn’t been told of the perks and prieveleges offered to the investors hence the detention.
The plans could have cost investors perhaps over $ 4 mn, well informed sources told The Sunday Island.
Economic Development Minister, Basil Rajapaksa participated at the stone laying ceremony on February 24, 2012 for the project.
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, one of the world’s best known hoteliers, currently owns and/or manages 72 hotels under the Shangri-La and Traders brands, with an inventory of over 30,000 rooms.
The group has a substantial development pipeline with projects in Austria, Canada, mainland China, India, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Mongolia, Russia, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and United Kingdom.
The hotel, which will be built on 10 acres of land facing the Galle Face promenade in Colombo, is expected to be ready late 2015.
The land, considered prime commercial property, had previously been occupied by the Sri Lanka army headquarters which was moved to another location in a Colombo suburb.
The group is also building a 315 room ‘city resort’ in Hambantota on a 145 acre property.Sources alleged that the lapse on the part of the Customs was not really a fault of theirs. Had those responsible for the project had alerted the Customs, the recent problem wouldn’t have happened. sources said.