By Uditha Jayasinghe
Unperturbed by the unfolding UNHRC sessions or a mounting debt midst weakening rupee, the Government has signed Rs. 56 billion worth of loans for infrastructure development.
Acting Cabinet Spokesman Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardana told media that Rs. 54 billion worth of loans were signed between Sri Lanka and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the multilateral aid agency of the Japanese Government.
One project will be to provide a high power transmission line costing Rs.13.4 billion (US$ 108 million), while the second will be used to develop the only international airport in the country.
The former will fund the construction of the 220 KV Transmission Line from Habarana to Veyangoda. The objective of the project is to improve the stability and reliability of the transmission system and to cater to the growing demand of electricity in the country.
The rest of the Rs. 54 billion will be used to improve and modernize the facilities of the Bandaranaike International Airport.
“Since the end of the war in 2009 Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has boomed and the Government wants to capitalise on the country’s strategic geographical location,” Abeywardana said.
The third project is the Kesbewa-Kindelpitiya-Bandaragama Highway to be developed with concrete surfacing at a cost of Rs. 21 billion.
Bandaragama B216 road (11.78 km) and Waskaduwa-Bandaragama (B458) road (12.07 km) have been identified for rehabilitation by obtaining the required funds from Bank of Ceylon.
The proposal made by President, in his capacity as the Minister of Ports and Highways, to award the contracts for the rehabilitation of the following roads, on the recommendations of the Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee, was approved by the Cabinet.
Responding to questions by the media he refuted claims that the Government was getting cornered into a “debt trap” with too many massive infrastructure projects depending on loans and insisted that the Government would not be intimidated by the US resolution.
“Just as we are using all our forces to defend Sri Lanka at the UNHRC we will also continue to work towards development within the country. We will not squander any opportunity given by the end of the war,” he insisted.