OVERSEAS media queried the slow development of Fiji's first casino by One Hundred Sands, the company granted an exclusive licence to develop the country's first legal gambling outlet, at a press conference at the Fijian Tourism Expo yesterday in Nadi.
Attorney-General and Minister for Tourism Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the project was running significantly behind time in terms of construction. "They have started works but they are way behind schedule," he said.
"As part of the licence there is a condition that for every month of delay they pay us $US100,000 ($F182,719) as penalty which we are picking up. There have been some changes in terms of the scheduling up until May but work has started.
"We understand they have got some funding, there were some issues with funding but that has since been resolved.
"As far as we're concerned, we don't mind the penalty being paid."
Responding to queries from overseas media about the time frame in which the $300million casino would be built, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said One Hundred Sands had informed the government that a progress report would be announced soon.
"They've told us that they're going to give us an update next month in terms of the actual scheduling. So we'll wait for that report."
One Hundred Sands was granted an exclusive licence to construct Fiji's first casino in 2011 and had announced completion of the project by September 2013.
Earthworks have started at the site but no announcement on a revised completion date has been made.