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 Post subject: How many ministers in Sri Lanka?
 Post Posted: Sun Sep 03, 2006 4:12 pm 
How many ministers?
Nobody knows the score

At last count, Sri Lanka had 76 cabinet, non-cabinet and deputy ministers in the 225-member parliment. The number is still growing! As the register keeps expanding, the portfolios are becoming increasingly innovative: P Chandrasekeran was sworn in as minister of "social inequity eradication". There is even a minister for "promotion of botanical and zoological gardens" -- Bandula Basnayake. As one wag commented: "God only knows what they’ll come up with next. On second thought` I don’t think even God knows."

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by Namini Wijedasa
@ Sunday Island - 03Sep2006


It is not easy anymore to get an accurate inventory of one’s cabinet, non-cabinet or deputy ministers -– the Information Department doesn’t have one, the Presidential Secretariat is unsure of the one they do have and the Government Printer would rather you speak to Parliament.

The Sunday Island did contact Parliament (which obligingly furnished the list) and it was found that only three members of the SLFP are neither minister, non-cabinet minister nor deputy minister.

They are national list parliamentarians Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Nirupama Rajapaksa and Gampaha district parliamentarian Sarath Kumara Gunaratne.

At last count, there were 54 cabinet and non-cabinet ministers in addition to 22 deputy ministers. This is equivalent to 76 bosses in a 225-member office. Nearly all of them have been assigned more than one portfolio or subject matter.

In the meantime, it is also difficult to draw the distinction is between cabinet and non-cabinet ministers. Even government officials have now resorted to dropping the "non" in "non-cabinet".

And as the register keeps expanding, the portfolios are becoming increasingly innovative: Upcountry People’s Front leader P Chandrasekeran was sworn in last month as minister of "social inequity eradication". There is even a minister for "promotion of botanical and zoological gardens" -- Bandula Basnayake.

As one wag commented: "God only knows what they’ll come up with next. On second thought` I don’t think even God knows."

Meanwhile, several ministers appear to be tasked with various aspects of the same job. For instance, A L M Athaullah is minister of fisheries housing but the minister of fisheries and aquatic resources is Felix Perera. The minister of rural industries is S B Nawinna but the minister of rural livelihood development is Jagath Pushpakumara (non-cabinet). Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi (non-cabinet) is minister of skills development but Piyasena Gamage is minister of vocational and technical training. Athauda Seneviratne is minister of foreign employment while Rohitha Abeygunawardena (non-cabinet) is minister of foreign employment promotion.

Perhaps in anticipation of supplementary recruits (or even out of sheer confusion), many of the government institutions that ought to keep a register have apparently given up.

"I didn’t really update our website after the last few changes," confessed Information Director Anusha Pelpita, apologetically. "You can get the latest list from the Presidential Secretariat’s constitutional and political division."

After several calls to the Presidential Secretariat, we were finally told that they didn’t feel comfortable releasing their list because they weren’t sure of its accuracy. They advised us to try the Government Publications Bureau.

The Government Publications Bureau was closed at the time we tried. So we contacted the Department of the Government Printer. They said they had a mailing list that may be a little out of date and suggested we try Parliament.

It was the office of the Sergeant-at-arms that finally faxed us the names --and even they are making the final changes only on Monday.


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