Monday, April 16, 2007

Genting holds groundbreaking ceremony for construction of Sentosa resort

Construction for the S$5.2 billion Resorts World at Sentosa (RWS) officially began today, barely 18 weeks after Genting International (GIL) won the bid to build Singapore’s second casino resort. GIL chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay said that work has started on schedule, with the resort targeted for opening in the first quarter of 2010.

Today, a ground-breaking ceremony was held to mark the start of its construction, with Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang saying that RWS will significantly strengthen Singapore’s attractiveness as a leisure destination of choice for families.

“Over the next few weeks, I understand that RWS expects to award tenders worth S$508 million for construction and development services such as road diversion, reclamation works and site formation,” he said.

Those contracts, he added, will provide opportunities for Singapore’s small and medium enterprises, and bring about significant job creation in the construction industry.
Construction of the integrated resort has come at a time when construction costs are going up after Indonesia imposed a ban on the export of sand. Supply of granite from Indonesia is also disrupted after the authorities there detained barges carrying granite bound for Singapore, allegedly because they were also carrying sand.

But Genting’s Lim said that at the moment, the costs are under control.

Asked on the recent probity checks launched by the Casino Regulation Division of the Home Affairs Ministry, he said that such checks are an ongoing process.

Resorts World at Sentosa’s chief executive officer, Tan Hee Teck, said: “The ministry already put up the statement. It’s very clear that it’s an an ongoing process. Anyway, no one can apply for (the casino) licence now. It’s only when 50 per cent of the investment had been spent and 50 per cent of the gross floor area completed that anyone can apply for the licence.”

The Casino Regulation Department said in February that it was conducting suitability checks on “relevant parties” to ensure that the GIL-Star Cruises consortium meets the requirement for a casino licence.

Reports here suggested that Singapore authorities were uneasy with Genting’s recent deal in Macau, including its tie-ups with gaming magnate Stanley Ho, giving him 6.99 per cent stake in Star Cruises which was then part of the consortium to build the RWS project.

GIL later announced that it was selling its 25 per cent stake in New Orisol, a hotel and casino project linked to Ho, to Star Cruises, and that Star Cruises would withdraw from RWS project and sell its 25 per cent stake in the project to GIL.

Lim said the exercise was almost completed, except for the sale of Star Cruises’ 25 per cent stake to GIL, which still needed shareholders’ approval.

Asked to comment on the issue, Minister Lim said that RWS understood the need to conduct the probity checks.

“There’s no issue now,” he said.

Source : NST
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