ECONOMYNEXT – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has issued an extraordinary gazette notification creating a State Ministry of Home Affairs which will control all issues dealing with land and will be administrated through the Divisional Secretariats.
The new Ministry will handle all issues dealing with land and has been mandated to release underutilized state lands on a long-term basis to grow crops that will provide raw materials for various industries such as carpentry, rattan and reed making.
It is also expected to develop a methodology to expeditiously provide land to the landless, low-income earners, industry, development and investment.
The gazette also says the Ministry will have the task of developing floriculture and organic products with local and foreign demand on unutilized land belonging to Plantations and government-run farms.
The Ministry has also been tasked with creating a database of land in the country which can been accessed online.
The gazette brings all the District Secretariats and the Divisional Secretaries under its purview, making it an unusually powerful State Ministry.
Traditionally in Sri Lanka, the Home Ministry is a Cabinet position and the Secretary a senior Sri Lanka Administrative Service officer.
This Ministry will function under the Ministry of Defence, the Secretary of which is traditionally a retired military officer, another break from tradition.
These functions were under Minister Chamal Rajapaksa and these powers were hived off from him to create the new non-cabinet portfolio.
Official sources said that this Ministry would be given to newly appointed State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe, who is an MP from Polonnaruwa. (Colombo, February 17, 2021)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana