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Lankan cabinet okay proposal to turn military airbase into civil airport

Currently, under the management of the Sri Lanka Air Force, the Hingurakgoda airport is set to be developed in accordance with international civil aviation standards…reports Asian Lite News

Sri Lankan cabinet approved a proposal to make preparations to develop the Hingurakgoda airport in the North Central Province as a complete airport for civilian use, the government’s information department said on Tuesday.

The department said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the minister of defence and Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva, submitted the proposal earlier, Xinhua news agency reported.

Currently, under the management of the Sri Lanka Air Force, the Hingurakgoda airport is set to be developed in accordance with international civil aviation standards. A committee has been appointed for the preparation of the master plan for the airport and other related tasks, according to the department.

The Hingurakgoda airport was originally known as Royal Air Force Minneriya airport, which can be dated back to World War II, serving as a base for the British Royal Air Force. Since then, it has been used as a military airbase.

Meanwhile, on debt restructuring agreements, President Wickremesinghe said that the agreements would provide significant relief to the country’s economy.

“In April 2022, Sri Lanka officially declared its inability to meet its debt obligations. Following this declaration, international business transactions with Sri Lanka came to a halt. No country is willing to engage in financial relations with a nation that is bankrupt and unable to pay its debts. Consequently, we were unable to secure loans or even obtain letters of credit. Against this backdrop, all projects in our country funded by foreign loans were halted,” President Wickremesinghe described.

He said that with the achievement of the crucial milestone in debt restructuring, there are legal opportunities for these countries to resume all projects funded by foreign loans.

“Projects such as the development of Katunayake Airport, the light railway, and the expressway are set to recommence. Moreover, we can look forward to initiating many new development projects,” he assured.

He said that international confidence in Sri Lanka is reaffirmed as bilateral creditors have reached an agreement, serving as a kind of international endorsement.

“The global community, which previously refused to accept our letters of credit, is now prepared to grant us a certificate of confidence,” the President said.

After the global economic crisis followed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka’s economy came to a standstill with no basic needs including food, medicine, fuel, and cooking gas.

In April 2022, Sri Lanka declared bankruptcy announcing its inability to meet its debt obligations. India immediately came to rescue its southern neighbour by supplying food, fuel, medicine and other financial facilities worth more than $4 billion.

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