Borrowed money spent to develop country - President

by Ravi Ladduwahetty

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, inaugurating Sri Lanka’s second international airport at Mattala yesterday, stressed the need for the procurement of foreign funds for development of mega international projects, just as much as there was local capital infusions for infrastructure development, which was equally important for the development of the country

He said: "It was not possible to build internationally important development projects such as the Mattala airport solely from internal revenue. It is true that we launched most development projects on the revenue from our own country, but we needed international assistance, too. Just as much as the government of China gave us the Magampura sea port, it also assisted us in building this beautiful airport. Work on constructing huge reservoirs such as Moragahakanda, Weheregala, Rambukkan Oya and Deduru Oya were begun with the country’s own revenue.

"However, we obtained international loans for completion of this work. We had no hesitation about it and will not hesitate to do so. This is a practice followed by other countries too. Even powerful countries do this. It is necessary to obtain loans to build a country. We too obtain such loans and assistance and built many things for the development of the country. Therefore, I express the gratitude of our people and our country to all of you," the President said.

President Rajapaksa noted that although 50 years had been completed since elevating the Katunayake airport to an international airport, the country was unable to build its own international airport till now.

Commenting on the future development potential arising from the new Mattala Airport, he said: "When aircraft touch down at Mattala we are able to land development for our country. The value of the corn pods of Wellassa to the sands on the beaches of Magampura will rise because of this airport. The Yala sanctuary will have more value in the world. This international airport through, enhancing the international image of the country, will give us added strength to conduct modern sporting events and holding of international conferences. This brings the Passekudah beach even closer to the world. We are now developing a country where one can travel to Ampara on one side and Nuwara Eliya on the other within a couple of hours from Mattala.

"I wish to say that when aircraft take to the sky from Mattala it is not only value of the South and Uva that will rise but that of Sabaragamuwa and the entire country, too." he said.

On the country’s aviation history, the President said: "Sri Lanka is a country that believed in the ‘Dandu Monara’, said to have flown thousands of years ago. We saw a depiction of the ‘Dandu Monara’ at the performance of the Ravana story today. We are a nation that had an awareness of flying machines long before others. However, what we saw in the past decades was an to insult that great thinking. During the Second World War Colombo and Trincomalee were bombed from the air. The Tiger terrorists made repeated attempts to destroy our air power internationally and to stop our aircraft from flying. On several occasions in 1986 and 2001 they carried out bomb attacks on stationary aircraft at Katunayake.

Also, in 1987 there was a ‘parippu’ drop from the air on Sri Lanka. The LTTE carried out damage costing many millions to the Katunayake airport. In addition the LTTE aircraft bombed Colombo having come from Iranamadu. At that time there were many warnings from abroad that Sri Lanka was not safe for stationing an aircraft, leave alone build an international airport, the President said.

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