Within a span of just twenty days of a Cabinet reshuffle there followed a reshuffle of State and Deputy Ministers. Needless to say there was both heartbreak and heartburn among those who aspired for top slots and received lesser ones or those who did not receive one at all. There was also other unusual developments. [...]


Transfer of Deputy Minister doesn’t mean transfer of vehicles, paintings


Within a span of just twenty days of a Cabinet reshuffle there followed a reshuffle of State and Deputy Ministers.

Needless to say there was both heartbreak and heartburn among those who aspired for top slots and received lesser ones or those who did not receive one at all. There was also other unusual developments. Some had asked for the institutions that they were handling previously, while others wanted the vehicles they used and at least one, the paintings hung on the walls in the office they occupied.
Harsha de Silva, former Deputy Foreign Minister who was sworn in a Deputy Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs (the portfolio is held by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe) is one of those. The Prime Minister had specifically asked for de Silva to be his Deputy so that he, together with the new Minister Tilak Marapana could share the load of the PM’s work.
Sources at the National Policies and Economic Affairs Ministry said Deputy Minister de Silva urged them to request the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to transfer the official vehicles he used, which included a sports utility vehicle (SUV) and a Montero Jeep.

Last Tuesday the Cabinet of Ministers decided to put on hold a move to purchase luxury vehicles ministers, deputy ministers and state minister. However, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) claimed that irrevocable Letters of Credit have already been opened for the import of these vehicles. Hence, the vehicles would sure arrive in Colombo. The suspension was on account of the devastating floods and resultant earth slips that have taken a toll of over 200 lives.

Dr. de Silva also wanted the transfer of other vehicles used by him.
Foreign Ministry officials have said that the vehicles which Mr de Silva has sought cannot be released. They say it has to be retained for use by the new Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Wasantha Senanayake.
He has also asked that five paintings purchased during his tenure at the Foreign Ministry be transferred to his new office at the National Policies and Economic Affairs Ministry.
Deputy Minister de Silva was expecting the paintings to arrive at his new office last Friday. He had wanted it properly inventoried before being moved out.

Chinese to build Ratnapura Expressway
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) has decided to permit China Shandong International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group Ltd. to carry out a feasibility study for the Ratnapura expressway project.

This project is to be a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and the Chinese company proposes to undertake the project on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis. At a recent meeting of the CCEM, it was noted that the Road Development Authority had conducted a feasibility study but, not on BOT terms. The Cabinet of Ministers have also granted approval for this project. The feasibility study will also examine how to link this proposed highway to the Horana Industrial Zone.

A Hong Kong based company, Shang Properties (Pvt) Ltd, part of the Shangri-La Properties Ltd., has also made a proposal to the Govt for the setting up of a Mixed Development Project (MDP). It has been approved by the CCEM for an eight-year project implementation period. The Board of Investment has been called upon to amend their Letter of Approval to include this provision.
This is for an MDP on a six-acre plot in Colombo 2 (Kompannaveediya area) which is owned by the Urban Development Authority.

More High Court Judges
The Cabinet of Ministers have decided to increase to 85 the number of High Court Judges from the existing level of 75.
The Legal Draftsman has been instructed to formulate draft legislation to amend the Judicature Act for this purpose.

It was a State visit to Australia, after all
An inadvertent error had crept into a report last week, where we said that, President Maithripala Sirisena’s travel to Australia was not a State visit.
It was based on an erroneous reading of the official website of the Australian Governor General.

It was, in fact, a State visit. This is what the invitation dated May 8, 2017 from Sir Peter Cosgrave, Governor General of Australia (considered the Head of State) told President Sirisena. Here is the text of the letter:
“Your Excellency
“I was delighted to learn that you are able to pay a State Visit to Australia and visit Canberra from Wednesday 24th to Thursday 25 May 2017.
“Such a visit will be warmly welcomed by me and my wife, and Prime Minister and the Government of Australia.

“The visit will provide a valuable opportunity to reaffirm the friendship between our two countries and mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The visit will also allow our two countries to further explore ways we can contribute to advancing our shared regional interests.“It therefore gives me pleasure to extend a warm invitation to you to visit Australia. I sincerely hope that you will honour us with your acceptance.”

Ravi K. Selective in asking for views
Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake has directed the Director General in his Ministry to ask senior Sri Lankan diplomats to give him 10 points on how to improve performance.
There was considerable enthusiasm among recipients who said that the Ministry had continued to be emasculated earlier. However, some of the senior most diplomats complain they had not received the request.
They ask whether they are being ignored altogether, when the new Minister wanted to hear all views. An irate one among them said, for a few, it would be “a case of blind leading the blind. But why leave out some?”

Finally, an Ambassador to Germany
Germany’s Foreign Ministry has accepted the agreemot (personal details) for the appointment of Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiaratchchi as Ambassador from Sri Lanka.
His appointment is the third nominee to Berlin, after two previous names were shot down, first by the Minister himself, and the second by the President. He will now go before the Parliamentary High Post Committee, before leaving at the end of June to take up appointment.
Kapila Waidyaratne, Additional Solicitor General in the Attorney General’s Dept, who retires from his post in July, will take over as the new Defence Secretary.


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