Speaking at the signing ceremony of the contract agreement with India's JMC Projects for Haa Dhaalu atoll Hanimaadhoo International Airport development project, Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail said without taking on debts for development projects, future generations will have to rely on big cities for their livelihood.
“By taking this debt today we are enabling future generations, our young children in different parts of the country, to live a happy life in their own homeland,” Fayyaz said.
The first airport in the north of the country is being developed with a loan from Exim Bank of India. The Indian company was awarded the contract for MVR 2.1 billion (USD 136 million).
“The economy is moving forward at a fast pace and we persevering despite these challenges,” he said.
Referring to Minister of Tourism, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom who attended the ceremony, Fayyaz said the country’s tourism has now reached where it was in back in 2019 and compared to then the country's income has increased.
The Hanimaadhoo airport project will include a new 2,460 meter runway, a modern terminal capable of handling 1.3 million passengers per annum and other facilities established for the airport.
Once the airport development project is completed, the airport will be able to accommodate Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft. The airport will also have direct flights from the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Africa.
Fayyaz said that with the talk of developing the Hanimaadhoo airport under the Indian line of credit, tourists have started to attract attention to Bodu-thiladhunmathi; the three northernmost atolls of the country.
"We think the public is still unsure whether [the airport development] will take place. I think there is no way to change anything further once the direct practical work starts in the next two months. We saw previous governments had built housing in Kulhudhuffushi, Haa Alifu and Haa Dhaalu atolls before a change in administration occurred” Fayyaz said.
"The houses had been left in ruins until another administrative change, and today, these houses are rebuilt and on the verge of being handed over to the people. Hopefully we will not allow such a thing to repeat itself"
Fayyaz said the development of the Hanimaadhoo airport would be taken to a point where it would be “seen and certain” before next year’s presidential election.