ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday announced that he will carry out sweeping changes in the government, but stopped short of announcing a cabinet reshuffle.
The President said the economy was on a stronger footing compared to when he assumed office in January 2015, and said economic management was carried out well. However, he said there would be sweeping changes in individuals holding key positions within two weeks.
Asked if there would be a cabinet reshuffle, he said: "Don't get excited...Wait till Vesak." The president made the remarks when he met with heads of local media institutions on Thursday morning.
There has been intense speculation that Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera were to swap portfolios in a possible cabinet reshuffle.
For Karunanayake, going from finance to foreign is seen as a promotion, as in terms of protocol, the ministry of foreign affairs is considered more important than the finance ministry.
To compensate Samaraweera for a perceived demotion from foreign to finance, he is to be given an additional portfolio of media, while incumbent Gayantha Karunathilake is to be elevated to ports minister. It is not clear what ports minister Arjuna Ranatunga will be offered.
Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella was tipped to lose the highways portfolio, while tourism and lands minister John Amaratunga was also to shed his lands portfolio.
However, there are reports of resentment within the ranks of the UNP and the Sirisena faction of the SLFP over the impending cabinet changes; the reassignment of portfolios is not a done deal, an official source said. Labour Minister John Seneviratne said he was unhappy with his portfolio and was hoping for a change. (COLOMBO, April 20, 2017)