With Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB) Opposition MP Dr. Harsha de Silva reiterating that he will not accept the Finance Minister portfolio under the present political conditions, The Morning learnt that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is likely to take oaths as the new Finance Minister today (25), with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa acting as the Finance Minister until the new appointment is made.
The crucial position still remains vacant, in the midst of the country’s most severe economic crisis since Independence.
The portfolio was offered to SJB MP Dr. de Silva on several occasions, although he has repeatedly stated that he is unwilling to take it up under the present conditions.
He made the following comments yesterday afternoon to the media: “I have some knowledge about the economy. Do you think that I would not be happy to accept the Finance Minister portfolio? Personally, it would be a big win for me, but it is not a win for the country. If I am going to take the Ministry, it will be under a national Government. Why can’t these leaders understand this? Why can’t our leaders understand that uniting is the solution to this problem?
Party leaders must take more responsibility. I am 100% ready to be committed, but for that commitment, a national government is needed. That does not mean that I become independent and enter the Government; it means that all parties must come together for this national need. The only problem here is the resignation of President Rajapaksa,” he said while speaking to the media yesterday (24).
Adding that he understands that the President “cannot leave tomorrow”, he said that the President could provide a timeline for his resignation and initiate the necessary Constitutional amendments.
“We understand that he can’t leave tomorrow but he can give us a time period for when he will resign. If he loves the country, he can do it. The ball is in the President’s court now. Some ambassadors have told me that if all parties do not join, they cannot support us. The pen is in the President’s hands now. He must make the correct decision now,” urged Dr. de Silva.
Meanwhile, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera said yesterday, at the weekly Cabinet press briefing to announce decisions taken by the Cabinet of Ministers, that the President is to act as Finance Minister until a new appointment is made.
Wickremesinghe became the Premier two weeks ago, with the resignation of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Although the position was offered to SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the latter had written to the President requesting a timeframe for his resignation and Constitutional amendments for him to accept the position. Thereafter, the SJB maintained that it would only support beneficial actions of the new Government formed under Wickremesinghe, without accepting any ministerial positions.