Wanted, Cabinet of six

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Despite all the ‘hee-haws’ of the Opposition,  SJB who are hell bent on sending President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa home,  the fact remains that a new  SLPP Government, under UNP Leader and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, has to establish a stable Government, commanding the required minimum number of 113 votes needed in the 225 Seat Parliament, if the country were to get out of this economic doom anytime soon.

Having said that, the SLPP Government under Wickremesinghe’s immediate predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Premier till his resignation last Monday (9 May) due to violent agitation by the masses, also had Parliamentary stability, but the vital missing link was that he had lost the masses’ confidence.

Today, Sunday 15 May, is only the third day since Wickremesinghe was appointed as Premier, his sixth appointment to this post since his first appointment to this position 29 years ago in May 1993.

Meanwhile, on 2 May 2022 the SJB handed over
No-Confidence Motions (NCMs) against both the SLPP Government and the President. At that time the Premier was Mahinda.

This newspaper reported on Friday (13 May) that the NCM on the President will be debated in Parliament on Tuesday (17). An NCM against the President is symbolic as he may be removed only by an Impeachment Motion.

Also, an NCM against the Government may now be meaningless as the Premier at that time, Mahinda, has already resigned. Article 49 (2) of the Constitution says that if Parliament passes a vote of No-Confidence in the Government, the Cabinet of Ministers shall stand dissolved and the President shall, unless he has, in the exercise of his powers under Article 70, dissolved Parliament, appoint a Prime Minister, Ministers of the Cabinet of Ministers, other Ministers and Deputy Ministers in terms of Articles 43, 44, 45 and 46.

Therefore, the NCM brought by the SJB against the Government on 2 May is invalid as the then Premier and the Cabinet had subsequently resigned.

From a socioeconomic perspective, what Sri Lanka now needs urgently is US dollars to import cooking gas, coal, petroleum fuel, milk foods, rice, dhal, dried fish and the list goes on to prevent its people from going hungry, if not to save them from starvation and also to provide electricity and fuel, uninterruptedly,  unlike now.

This is because the country’s dollars were plundered when Mahinda was President from 17 November 2005 to 8 January 2015, while the country’s agriculture sector was virtually destroyed by Gotabaya’s foolish decision to ban imported chemical fertiliser, since rescinded, but too late to immediately nullify the ill-effects of that brainless ban.

US dollars or other freely convertible currency to make the above urgent imports, unconditionally, without bartering aid for land  are only readily available among friendly countries and regions like India, USA, EU, UK and Japan.

Nonetheless, to provide aid to Sri Lanka, they not only require a Premier and a Government, but a Cabinet of Ministers as well.

The need for a ‘complete Government’ for friendly countries to come to Sri Lanka’s aid was exemplified by the British High Commission as reported by this newspaper’s website of Friday which said, “The British High Commission in Sri Lanka says the next few weeks are crucial in building political and economic stability in the country.

Taking to Twitter, the Commission said that it encourages the Sri Lankan Government, led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to work towards stabilising the country.

It also noted that the Government must respond to the needs of the Sri Lankan people in order to achieve this goal.”

Discounting Defence, which Cabinet portfolio is already with the President, at this juncture, a Cabinet of Ministers comprising six only may be needed to immediately satisfy the needs of the international community so that they could come to Sri Lanka’s aid without further delay. They are a Trade Minister, a Foreign Minister, a Finance Minister, a Utilites Minister, a Law & Order Minister and an Agriculture Minister.

Without further dithering and dothering, Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa must move fast to make these key, emergency appointments, immediately, to save Sri Lanka from anymore violent unrest.