Sri Lanka governor’s appointment strains dual leadership

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena promised a new governor "within hours," but almost a day later there was no appointment announced leading to speculation over a deepening rift between him and his Prime Minister.

Sources at President Sirisena’s office leaked to reporters of a possible appointment on Wednesday afternoon during the President’s previously unannounced visit to the Central Bank headquarters in Fort.

However, inexplicably there was no announcement and instead Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe emerged from the Bank saying they had only discussed the state of the economy.

Unofficial sources suggested that Sirisena favoured promoting a central banker while the UNP preferred an outsider. However, as a compromise the UNP was inclined to push a loyalist within the bank even through he was not the senior most.

The failure to appoint is seen as a symptom of deepening differences between the President and the Prime Minister.

Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s tenure ends at 6.00 p.m. on Thursday.

Even as the President was about to name a candidate on Wednesday, the UNP raised the propriety of him making an appointment without seeking the advise of Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, who is currently abroad.

The Monetary Law Act says a Governor shall be appointed by the president on the advise of the finance minister. However, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has arrogated to himself the responsibility of the Central Bank which means his green light is required for the President to make the appointment.

However, the president can ignore both and go ahead on the basis that the appointment was being made with the concurrence of the acting finance minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, a member of the SLFP.

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(COLOMBO, June 30, 2016)

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