By Chandani Kirinde
Thirty-one State institutions including the Police Department, State Intelligence Service (SIS), Department of Immigration and Emigration, Department of Registration of Persons, National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, as well as the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRC), will come under the under the purview of the Defence Ministry, according to the subjects and functions Gazette issued by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday.
However, no Minister of Defence has been appointed so far, although Chamal Rajapaksa has been appointed as the State Minister for Defence and Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Kamal Gunaratne as the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence.
Prior to the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the Defence portfolio was held by the President, but this constitutional enactment prohibits the Executive from holding a ministry.
While the newly-elected President has said he would abolish the 19th Amendment if his party gets a two-thirds majority in the next Parliamentary Election, it is likely the President’s Office will seek an interpretation from the Supreme Court on the issue of the Defence portfolio prior to that.
The Gazette issued by the President sets out the subjects and functions allocated to Departments, Public Corporations, and Statutory Institutions coming under the 15 Cabinet Ministers who were appointed last month.
A total of 48 institutions have been brought under the Minister of Finance, Economic and Policy Development Mahinda Rajapaksa, including the Central Bank of Sri Lanka , all State Banks and their subsidiaries and related institutions, the Employees’ Trust Fund, the Security and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka, the National Lotteries Board, and the Development Lotteries Board.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the Minister of Buddhasasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs, has another 23 institutions under this Ministry including the Department of National Museums, Department of Archaeology, and the National Performing Arts Theatre (Nelum Pokuna).
The Department of Government Office for National Unity and Reconciliation, Office of Missing Persons, the Office for Reparations, and the Government Analysts Department will function under Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Law Reforms Nimal Siripala de Silva.
Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena, who is also the Minister of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations, will have the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) under his Ministry, while SriLankan Airlines Limited and its subsidiaries will come under the purview Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Prasanna Ranatunga.