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Monday, 26 April 2010

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Government Gazette

Cabinet of Ministers

As promised the President has appointed a smaller Cabinet of Ministers. Though there is a possibility of the number of Ministers being increased by the addition of a few this week, relative to the earlier Cabinets the new one is significantly smaller.

With the elimination of the non-Cabinet ministerial portfolios the saving in numbers and costs is considerable. The President could do so with consummate ease because the UPFA has a very broad majority in Parliament. It was to ensure stable Government that the Cabinet had to be expanded earlier. It was not simply expanded, the compulsions on the President were so great that the expansion cold not be contained in the realm of rationality.

There is much more than numbers in the new Cabinet. The subjects under which ministries are allocated show better rationale in judgment. The duplicity that existed earlier is no longer there. This could facilitate more efficient running of ministries as it removes many ambiguities that existed earlier in ascertaining the legitimate domain of each ministry.

The real nature of this division would come to light only after public institutions are attached to different ministries.

In the new situation where there is no direct security threat from terrorists, the Government could dispense with many personnel that were attached to the ministerial security division. There could be a considerable saving in both personnel and equipment.

As most Ministers are not new-comers there is no need to import new duty free vehicles for their use. Since the number of ministries has been reduced the resources could be better used.

Thus by reducing the size of the Cabinet of Ministers the President has effected a considerable saving which could be spent for better purposes. This means a welcome step towards cheaper and more accessible governance.

Some Ministers may be unhappy over the new portfolios they have received. There is nothing to be disheartened. As the President emphasized all ministries are equally important since they embrace valuable sectors of the economy or some valuable social role.

Instead of lamenting over loss of pet subjects, they should take up the new challenges and do their best to serve the country in their new capacities.

The main thing in the Cabinet system of governance is its collective responsibility. Whatever the differences that may have been there on the battle for manaape they should pool their synergies and act as one team for the betterment of the people who elected them to Office.

This post-war Cabinet will face more daunting challenges. Consolidating peace, setting up better forms of governance, ending waste and corruption, ensuring national harmony, economic development, poverty alleviation and many more vital issues will confront it.

It is also necessary to select capable public servants to man the ministries as well as the personal offices of Ministers. In the selection of officers for the personal staff it had been the practice to rely on kinship or friendship over efficiency and capability. This practice should be dispensed with. It cannot be difficult to find suitable persons with necessary experience and political knowledge and loyalty to fill these posts.

People expect much from the new Cabinet. Each and every member of the Cabinet should respond with commitment and dedication to fulfill the aspirations of the people.

Whatever proposals are passed by the Cabinet, whatever legislation is approved by Parliament it is the public service that would implement them. One of the first and priority tasks before the new Cabinet is to eliminate red tape and bureaucratic practices in the system of public administration. They could bring to naught whatever decision of the Cabinet. There could even be resistance from bureaucrats.

The country would be facing novel problems which require innovative thinking and painstaking labour. The Cabinet should be equally qualified to take up such challenges.

The economic front may also place new challenges on the agenda. The world financial crisis and economic downturn is not over yet. It would certainly impose new constraints. Eliminating them would need much more than plain rhetoric.

The best practice would be for the new Cabinet to take people into confidence and solicit their support in deciding on difficult issues.

Decisions that changed the course of Lanka’s history

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says it was President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s determination that ultimately helped the Army defeat the Tigers. “President Mahinda Rajapaksa took several brave decisions. In the final analysis, it was the cumulative effect of those decisive, brave decisions that enabled Sri Lankan Armed Forces to liquidate the LTTE.” He says, “usually in a military operation the world outside the conflict theatre, domestic and international, see only soldiers fighting.

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Honour, reputation and outliving ...

Elections are tense events, more so for those seeking political office than for those who elect them. First of all there are the anxieties suffered by individual political parties, especially those that are not frontrunners and indeed face the real threat of being wiped out. Then we have the individuals, both among the favourites and the probable losers. They spend scandalous amounts of money and wonder if they will get elected.

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Access and excellence in higher education

The institutions to be set up by foreign educational providers are unlikely to improve access and quality. More public investment in higher education and academic collaboration with the best universities could bring in the desired results. Human Resource Development Union Minister, Kapil Sibal has claimed that access to, and the quality of the Indian higher education would improve substantially with the entry of foreign educational providers in the country.

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