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Daily Archives: November 8, 2008

SAR gov

Image   The SAR government would put a “close look” on the filing of Las Vegas Sands auditor this week to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that said the enterprise was in danger of defaulting on debt and breaching debt ration covenants, said Francis Tam Pak Yuen, the Secretary for Economy and Finance yesterday.
LV Sands may be forced to halt construction of its US$3.3 billion casino hotel project opposite The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on the Cotai Strip if it fails to raise fresh funds. The Secretary and Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah yesterday attended the welcome reception for Joseph R Donovan Jr. ,the new Consul General of the United States to Hong Kong and Macau, where Tam told the media the SAR government would “continue to maintain communications with each of the gaming operators in order to ensure normal operation of the market”. When asked about the current operation conditions of Las Vegas Sands Corp, Tam
did not give a director response, but said that Macau’s gaming revenue remained at about seven billion patacas a month and that the six license holders were “basically having certain space to run business in Macau”. He also said that under the current global financial slump, it was “inevitable” for the local economy to also be affected. Thus, the Secretary said the main focus of the SAR government next year would be helping
development of small to medium sized enterprises in order to “stabilise the economic foundation of Macau”.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas Sands chief executive Sheldon Adelson yesterday affirmed the company’s commitment to its Singapore casino after a filing with US regulators sparked doubts about its financial health. The development, called Marina Bay Sands, is scheduled to open by the end of 2009. “When we were selected to develop an integrated resort at Marina Bay, we made a commitment to the Singapore government and the people of Singapore,” Adelson said in a statement. “In light of recent turmoil in the global markets, I felt the need to personally reaffirm our commitment to the success of Marina Bay Sands,” said Adelson, adding that government support for the casino “remains strong” following consultations with government officials this week.
The Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore has allowed the company to raise its original table count to 1,000 from 600 to meet demand, it said. The statement followed a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday in which Las Vegas Sands said it may have to stop or ease up the pace of its global projects should it fail to secure the necessary funding or obtain favourable credit terms. “If the company is not able to obtain the requisite financing or the terms are not as favourable as it anticipates, the company may be required to slow or suspend its global development activities… until such financing or other sources of funds become available,” it said. Previously the Las Vegas Sands said its projects in Macau’s Cotai Strip will be among those affected. Richard Stanley, chief executive of Singapore banking giant DBS group, also said yesterday there were no indications Las Vegas Sands will default on loans. DBS is one of 40 banks that formed a syndicate to fund the Marina Bay Sands casino development, which is estimated to cost more than four billion US dollars. “All signals I’m getting from the management of Las Vegas Sands is that they intend to finish the project and move on,” Stanley said at a news conference on the bank’s third quarter earnings. “I have to accept what they say and I have seen in recent days a strong commitment to the project from Las Vegas Sands,” he said, adding that there had been “no indication of default” on the project and was “no need” to
provide for loan provisions”. “As of now, all the equity commitments have been made, the project is proceeding in pace,” he said. Last month, Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper reported that Marina Bay Sands may not open fully as scheduled at the end of next year due to construction problems, rising costs and a labour shortage. However, Marina Bay Sands general manager George Tanasijevich told at the time that the
project was on target to open as scheduled.

UN urges India to decriminalise homosexuality

The United Nations has urged India to decriminalise homosexuality, saying it would help the fight against HIV/AIDS by allowing intervention programmes like the successful ones in China and Brazil.
Jeffrey O'Malley, director of the United Nations Development Programme on HIV/AIDS, said yesterday that countries protecting homosexuals from discrimination had far better records of protecting them from infection.
India, which has an estimated 2.5 million people living with HIV, has seen a drop in new infections contracted through unprotected commercial sex.
But "unfortunately in India, the rates of new infections among men who have sex with men continue to go up," O'Malley said.
"Until we acknowledge these behaviours and work with people involved with these behaviours, we are not going to halt and reverse the HIV epidemic," he said.
"Countries which protect men who have sex with men… have double the rate of coverage of HIV prevention services — as much as 60 percent."
O'Malley's remarks come amid a stormy debate in India over homosexuality — which is punishable by a fine and a 10-year prison term.
The Delhi High Court is currently considering a suit brought by gay rights activists to decriminalise homosexuality in a case that has generated intense media interest.
The statute in question is a British colonial-era law prohibiting "carnal intercourse against the order of nature."
Those seeking a change, including Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, argue that allowing homosexual sex between consenting adults would bring India's largely closeted gay community into the open.
O'Malley said countries where homosexuality was not legally proscribed had more success in preventing new infections among sexual minorities.
"In China, male homosexuality has never been illegal. So there aren't any of these legal barriers to HIV prevention work," he said: "It's easier to do this (prevention) work in China."
Brazil, he added, had taken another step forward by combining legal status for gays and lesbians with anti-homophobia campaigns.

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