Leaving alone solving the existing problems, the cabinet reshuffle of the ‘Yahapaalana’ government has created new problems. It was widely expected that ministers who had been a failure, would lose their positions. But nothing of the sort happened, and only a change of heads occurred.
The new trouble is over the ministers, who have had their portfolios changed, are unwilling to let go of their previous affiliate departments and corporations. Although Ravi Karunanayake left the finance ministry, he had asked, even prior to the cabinet reshuffle, that certain institutions coming under that ministry be attached to his new ministry, foreign affairs, and the prime minister has agreed to that. Accordingly, National Lotteries Board, Development Lotteries Board, SriLankan Airlines, Elkaduwa Plantations and some other institutions are to be given to the foreign ministry, but the relevant gazette notification is yet to be issued. That is because the president has refused to approve that.
In the meantime, the secretary and other top officials in the foreign ministry are reportedly trying to avoid responsibility for the institutions to be newly-attached. That is because the foreign ministry and its institutions are tasked with huge responsibilities, while those to be added are directly involved with the economy. Previously too, when Rohitha Bogollagama was the foreign minister, ministry officials refused to accept responsibility for the institutions coming under his added portfolio of investment promotion. If such a situation occurs, those institutions will have to be come under a separate ministry.
Meanwhile, new lands and parliamentary affairs minister Gayantha Karunatilake has asked that he be allowed to retain the State Printing Department and the State Printing Corporation, which are under his previous portfolio, media. It is a question as to how those institutions qualify to come under his new ministry.
In the event Ravi is given the institutions coming under finance, Gayantha will have to be given what he asks for from the media. If that happens, finance and media minister Mangala Samaraweera will be left with signing the newly-printed currency notes, presenting the annual budget to parliament, holding briefings and issuing statements to the media.