Prez appoints acting ministers for Finance, Women and Child Affairs

‘Yuthukama’ represented in Cabinet for the first time

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has assigned State Finance and Women and Child Affairs portfolios to Shehan Semasinghe and Anupa Pasqual, respectively, as acting ministers before leaving the country. He will be visiting Tokyo and Manila. The President left on Sunday (25).

However, when President Wickremesinghe represented Sri Lanka, at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II over a week ago, the Finance and Women and Child Affairs portfolios were entrusted to Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Geetha Kumarasinghe to act in his absence.

Sources said that this was due to the appointment of two State ministers each to handle Finance and Women and Child Affairs portfolios.

In addition to finance and Women and Child Affairs, President Wicremesinghe holds defence, investment promotion and technology. Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon, Shehan Semasinghe and Kanaka Herath were assigned defence, investment promotion and technology, respectively, on both occasions – Wickremesinghe’s visits to the UK and now Japan and the Philippines.

Anupa Pasqual, first time entrant to Parliament from the Kalutara district contested the last general election on the SLPP ticket. Pasqual represented civil society group ‘Yuthukama’ that campaigned for the SLPP at the 2019 presidential and 2020 parliamentary polls. The SLPP accommodated ‘Yuthukama’ leader Gevindu Cumaratunga on its National List.

Political sources said that the government was yet to reach agreement on ministerial portfolios held by President Wickremesinghe against the backdrop of the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) refusing to join the cabinet of ministers. In terms of the Constitution, the government can appoint 30 ministers and 40 non-cabinet ministers.

President Wickremesinghe on July 22 appointed 18 cabinet ministers. They included the Premier. About 8 weeks later, President Wickremesinghe appointed 38 State Ministers.

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