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Sunday, 20 November 2011

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Private sector invested Rs. 7 b:

International sports events are money spinners -CB Governor

International sports events are multi-billion business ventures and not mere entertainment. Sri Lanka is ready to host such international events and use them to develop the country's economy, said Central Bank Governor and Co-Chairman of the committee set up to bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Ajith Nivard Cabraal.

A part of the Sri Lankan delegation at St. Kitts

Cabraal together with Co-Chairman and Minister of Sports, Mahindananda Aluthgamage addressed a press conference in Colombo last week to answer criticisms against the money spent for the bidding process of the Commonwealth Games.

Cabraal said that the total expenditure of the bidding process including expenditure of the delegation consisting of 120 members to St Kitts was Rs. 8 billion. However, the government spent only Rs.1 billion and the rest was borne by the private sector and they considered it an investment.

Cabraal said that according to the investment plan of the proposed Commonwealth game city in Hambantota, the game specific investment was $ 1 billion. Other infrastructure investments would have been much higher and it would be separate.

The State sector as well as private sector was ready to invest. Government had plans to host international sports events in the proposed Game City after it was completed in the event, Sri Lanka won the 2018 Commonwealth Games bid and the huge investment would not have been a waste. The total value of international sporting events is over $240 billion and if Sri Lanka won the bid it would be a turning point in the Sri Lankan economy, he said.

According to the bid document, the total planned investment of the Games was Rs. 265 billion (at 2011 prices). Sri Lanka (Hambantota) and Australia (Gold Coast) were in the biding and Gold Coast in Australia was selected.

Expenditure included building eight new sporting venues in Hambantota. all of which were expected to be ready in time for the 2016 South Asian Games. In addition Rs. 75 billion capital expenditure specific to running the Games, Rs. 40 billion for increasing hotel room numbers and related facilities (committed by the private sector), Rs. 60 billion on a university in the area including a business and IT park were among the investment plans.

Cabraal said that the Game specific investment could be recovered from ticket sales and other revenue. Responding to criticism against the huge delegation that went to St Kitts and the Rs. 7 billion waste on the bid, he said that the country should take a different economic development path and that we can not be a Third World country forever. "We did our best to win the bid, we lost to a developed country. We made a strong bid to host the Games", he said. Pointing out the Malaysian examples he said that the Commonwealth Games held in Malaysia help develop the country. The economic status of Malaysia at that time was similar to that of Sri Lanka.

Explaining the reason for the defeat at the bid, he said that some members raised issues of the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in India, such as non payment of bills and they argued that Asian countries such as Sri Lanka and India cannot host the Games successfully. Malaysia in 1998 and India in 2010 are the only Asian nations to host the CW Games and seventeen games have been held in developed countries such as the UK, Canada and Australia.

"Although Sri Lanka lost the bid, the money spent on the campaign was not a waste and it has promoted Sri Lanka's image internationally.

We have not thought of bidding for the 2022 Games but our plan on making Hambantota a sports city will go ahead as planned despite losing the bid", he said.

GW

 

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