KATHMANDU: Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada has said that the tourism sector is the crucial basis of country’ speedy economic growth, employment creation and foreign currency earning.

Khatiwada who was responding the queries raised by lawmakers on topics related to the Tourism Ministry in today’s meeting of the House of Representatives, on behalf of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, said that the government would launch different programme for the development of the tourism sector.

He said that the runway rehabilitation works at the Tribhuvan International Airport has reached the final phase and the airport could come into full fledged operation by the end of June.

Finance Minister Khatiwada said that initiatives were underway to remove Nepal from the air safety list of the European Commission.

He said that sufficient budget has been allocated for the reconstruction of quake-damaged heritages enlisted in the list of World Heritage site and construction of Ranipokhari and Dharahara.

He told Parliament that the government had a turnaround plan for debt-ridden Nepal Airlines Corporation that includes capital restructuring and inducting a strategic partner.

“We are worried about the future of Nepal Airlines. The corporation’s worrisome legacy is long, and it did not start with the present government. But we cannot evade our responsibility.”

Khatiwada said that the government had rescheduled the interest payment deadline for its loans taken from state-owned financial institutions. Currently, the corporation owes Rs40 billion to various institutions, which means interest payments totalling Rs3.66 billion annually.

As the corporation’s poor financial health has been a cause for concern for many lawmakers, Khatiwada said that it needed capital restructuring too. Capital restructuring involves changing the mixture of debt and equity in a company’s capital structure. It is performed in order to optimise profitability or in response to a crisis like bankruptcy. “We are also considering bringing a strategic partner for the corporation.”