Sri Lanka’s Finance ministry is set to be restructured as part of the major shakeup in the government following its humiliating local council election defeat two weeks ago, official sources said Thursday.
State-owned banks, insurance and the central bank will be brought back under the Finance ministry, the sources said adding that the media portfolio is likely to be taken out.
The media subject was also attached to the Finance ministry when Mangala Samaraweera was made minister of both after Ravi Karunanayake was forced to step down after he was implicated in the bond scam.
The government believes that the media ministry will become more important in the run up to the 2019 presidential election and there should be a strong politician leading it.
It was not immediately clear if Minister Samaraweera will be retained in the finance portfolio, a position he had loathed given the fact that he could not provide jobs to his electoral constituents.
However, under a restructured Finance ministry, its minister would have access to Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, the National Savings Bank and the Insurance Corporation.
The Insurance corporation owns large stakes in other private banks and listed companies giving it significant clout over the private sector too.
There was agreement between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena on elevating Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka as the minister of Law and Order.
Agricultural minister Duminda Dissanayake is expected to swap his portfolio with another Sri Lanka Freedom Party colleague.
Three SLFP ministers – Susil Premajayantha, Dayasiri Jayasekara and Chandimal Weerakkody — are doubtful in the new cabinet, but they were being persuaded to stay, official sources said.
The trio had made public remarks that they may not want to be in a cabinet under premier Wickremesinghe. However, several others who made such pronouncements – Mahinda Amaraweera and John Seneviratne — have down U-turns.
The UNP wants to bring two new faces into the cabinet giving ministerial positions to those representing the Matale and Nuwara Eliya districts.
The changes were due to be made on Thursday, but sources said the complex nature of the changes meant that the process could get delayed.