Eight new Cabinet Ministers; total 19
- Finance Minister yet to be appointed
- Douglas, Bandula, Amaraweera, Vidura, Ahamed Naseer, Roshan Ranasinghe get portfolios
A total of eight new Cabinet Ministers were appointed yesterday (23), bringing the total number of Ministers in the new Cabinet to 19, although the post of Finance Minister continues to be vacant in the midst of the worst economic crisis that the country has faced since Independence.
Yesterday’s eight new Cabinet appointees come from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), and the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) – although all of them were elected to Parliament under the SLPP. Accordingly, the new Cabinet appointees are Minister of Fisheries Douglas Devananda, Minister of Transport and Highways, and Mass Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, Minister of Water Supply Keheliya Rambukwella (who is also Minister of Health), Minister of Agriculture, Wildlife, and Forest Conservation Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Industries Dr. Ramesh Pathirana (who is also Minister of Plantation Industries), Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayaka, Minister of Environment Ahamed Naseer, and Minister of Irrigation, Sports, and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe.
Last week, on 20 May, nine Cabinet Ministers were appointed from the SLPP, the SLFP and the main Opposition Party, the Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB).
However, both the SLFP and the SJB have stated that accepting Cabinet portfolios is against the collective decision of their respective parties. The SJB has also suspended its members Harin Fernando and Manusha Nanayakkara after they accepted Ministerial positions last week.
Four other Cabinet Ministers were initially appointed on 14 May.
The new Cabinet comes in the wake of the appointment of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was appointed earlier this month. Despite the continuing calls of the anti-Government protestors for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, he still remains in power.
Wickremesinghe has reportedly stated that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, aimed at curtailing the powers of the Executive President, which were enhanced by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, will be presented to the Cabinet this week.
Reports also show that the Cabinet is to be limited to a maximum of 25 members.