|Thursday, 13 December 2001|
Sixty new Ministers took oaths yesterday before President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at President's House. This includes 25 ministerial portfolios with full Cabinet rank, 28 ministerial posts without Cabinet rank - a new feature - and nine deputy ministerial posts.
The new ministerial team is widely seen as business and industry friendly, with many professionals handling their areas of expertise.
The number of Cabinet ministers has been reduced to 25, with economic and social development as priorities.
In accordance with United National Front policies, all the ministers will only be entitled to their normal salaries as Members of Parliament. They will not enjoy any other additional ministerial perks.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will also head the Ministry of Policy Development and Implementation, which is expected to be the apex body coordinating the functions of all other ministries.
A significant feature of the new Cabinet is the inclusion of seven PA defectors: Prof. G.L.Peiris, S.B.Dissanayake, Mahinda Wijesekara, Rauff Hakeem, Bandula Gunawardena, Arumugam Thondaman and Lakshman Kiriella. Five of the nine deputy ministers are also PA defectors - Bandula Gunawardena, Muthu Sivalingam, Basheer Segudawood, Mohideen Abdul Cader and Mahinda Wijesekara.
The Finance Ministry has been split into Finance and Rural Economy, headed by K.N.Choksy and Bandula Gunawardana, who will also be the Deputy Finance Minister.
There will be a separate Defence Minister for the first time in 13 years. Former Attorney General Tilak Marapone will be the new Defence Minister. The Police Department will come under the Ministry of Interior John Amaratunga.
The Ministry of Human Resources Development, Education and Cultural Affairs (Dr.Karunasena Kodithuwakku) has not been included in the Cabinet ranks.
The education sector includes separate Ministries for School Education (Suranimala Rajapakse) and Tertiary Education and Training (Kabeer Hashim).
Four new ministries have been created for regional development for Western (M.H.Mohamed), Southern (Ananda Kularatne), Central (Tissa Attanayaka) and North West (Jayatilaka Podinilame). Mahinda Wijesekara, in addition to his Cabinet portfolio of Fisheries and Ocean Resources, will also deputise for Southern Region Development Minister Ananda Kularatne.
The only woman in the entire 60-member team is Amara Piyaseeli Ratnayake (Women's Affairs).
A separate Cabinet Ministry has been created for Environment and Natural Resources (Rukman Senanayake).
Imtiasz Bakeer Markar will head the non-Cabinet ranking Ministry of Mass Communication, which is expected to handle posts, telecommunications and media.
Produced by Lake House