Bonanza from bash down by billions

By Bandula Sirimanna

Public funds to the tune of about Rs. 450 million has been spent on the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) weekend, connected events and the run-up to the Bollywood extravaganza, officials said yesterday.

They said that in addition to this about Rs. 250 million had been spent by Indian industrial conglomerate Videocon, Indian mobile phone company Micromax and local sponsors. The officials said it was earlier estimated that the entire event would bring in a return of 14 times – more than Rs 9 billion -- its cost.
However the latest likely return is expected to be around Rs. 4 billion, they said.

The reduced revenue is partly due to a drop in the number of foreign visitors for the IIFA awards and the absence of super stars such as Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. Also it has been pointed out that though the original plan was to accommodate 5,000 at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, after the costly refurbishing, it could accommodate 2,000 people only.

Tourism authorities said the pre- and post-publicity from the event was expected to attract at least 100,000 Indian tourists in the next few months, in addition to whipping up more investment prospects from Indian businesses, as the case hae been in previous IIFA events held across the world.

However, the authorities were unable to comment on whether the negative overseas publicity from the absence of Bachchan, Khan and others, apparently due to protests from the pro-Tamil lobby overseas, would sharply reduce the financial benefits that would accrue to Sri Lanka.

Ranil shoots down IIFA

Opposition UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said the government ended spending more than it invested in the IIFA event and demanded the accounts for the Rs. 700 million expenditure.

He said the government invested Rs. 700 million for a first XI team from Bollywood and only a 'C' team arrived. It was a breach of contract, he added.

The UNP leader said the government could have built houses for the recent flood victims with the money.

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