Sri Lanka’s jumbo cabinet promises exciting new policy initiatives


Sep 08, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s 'national government’ appointed a jumbo 42-member cabinet last Friday after lengthy discussions between ambitious parliamentarians, that left some analysts scratching their heads. The general public however reached for their LBO and Google search bars to find the ministry most relevant to them. For instance, a search for "development" brings up nine ministries, and a search for "education" brings up three ministries. We recommend the LBO search function as a valuable tool for the investor community. The appointments were scientific, as promised by President Maithripala Sirisena in his election manifesto, on the principle of more is better. There were also some surprises. The Tourism Ministry coupled with Christian Affairs promises new initiatives that target hitherto untapped tourism markets. The Postal Services Ministry joined with Muslim Affairs could mean exciting new initiatives to improve the efficiency of the postal services. The Justice Ministry coupled with Buddha Sasana, and University Education coupled with Highways has added to the suspense around policies that might be announced. The scientific bases for these mergers are still undisclosed. Analysts say the appointments have been distributed among those who will support the ruling party in constitutional amendments. The creation of a government with a two-thirds backing in Parliament would aspire to Lichchavi principles, according to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. According to Mahaparinibbana Sutta of Lord Buddha, Lichchavis followed seven guidelines known as ‘Sapta Aparihaniya Dharma’ to rule their kingdom about 2,700 years ago. The main feature here was the regular meeting of rulers for consultation and arriving at consensus. The unity government is arguably a modern attempt at following Lichchavi principles, but the JVP has raised its hand calling foul. The constitutional provision for a national government came under fire after the JVP demanded an interpretation over the constitutional provision from the Supreme Court. The government slipped it in with the help of the newly appointed speaker, but the JVP has charged that the new national government has violated the 19th amendment to the constitution. According to Lichchavi principles, a national government should have all political parties in Parliament, and the JVP is not happy. We recommend that foreign investors keep a close eye on these political developments in Sri Lanka and rely on the Board of Investment as a one-stop shop. This is because the many ministries created are scientific. But an attempt to negotiate with all of them might make you miserable. 01-3  
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