Crisis-hit Sri Lanka appoints 37 junior ministers, including nephew of ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa – Times of India

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Thursday appointed 37 junior ministers, including the nephew of former presidents Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa, as President Ranil Wickremesinghe went for a major expansion to provide a stable government to tackle the island nation’s worst-ever economic crisis.
Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948 which was triggered by a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves, leaving the country of 22 million people scrambling for essentials.
The majority of the junior ministers or lawmakers appointed in the ministers of state rank were from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party.
A few also included the former president Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which decided to stay away during the government formation in July.
“New state ministers (were) sworn in before the president at the presidential secretariat,” the president’s media division said in a statement.
While lawmakers Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Shehan Semasinghe were sworn in as state ministers in the finance ministry, Shasheendra Rajapaksa, the nephew of Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa, was the other notable inclusion, appointed in the irrigation ministry.
Thursday’s flurry of appointments notwithstanding, President Wickremesinghe’s dreams of forming an all-party government to tackle the island nation’s worst-ever economic crisis is still far from a reality.
As he presented the interim budget for 2022 in Parliament in his capacity as the minister of finance last month, Wickremesinghe said: “I reiterate the invitation to all the parties represented in this Parliament to join an all-party government. Since this unprecedented situation is the responsibility of us all, and therefore need to prioritise the necessities of the country.”
Wickremesinghe assumed office after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka following mass protests in July and then resigned.
Earlier this month, Sri Lanka secured a staff-level agreement for a USD 2.9 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), even as the country had an arduous task to restructure its debt with its creditors, including China.

Source link