The Sunday Leader

94 Government Departments Under Direct Family Control

  • The Brothers Take It All

By R. Wijewardene

Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa

According to the Government Gazette detailing the names and duties of the 42 ministries in the current cabinet, the Rajapaksa siblings will control no less than 94 state institutions.

The 51 page document outlines in bullet points the key responsibilities of each ministry, and also lists the state institutions that fall under the purview of each minister.
The list, by defining the duties of the country’s ministries, elucidates some of the most baffling mysteries of Sri Lankan politics.  For example, it explains just what the Minister of Public Management Reforms is actually supposed to do.

Interestingly, the Mahinda Chinthanaya is now incorporated explicitly into the duties of the nation’s ministers, with cabinet members specifically asked to carry out their duties in accordance with the principles of the Mahinda Chinthana/Idiri Dekma vision for the future.

The incorporation of one man’s vision into the responsibilities of a nation’s key ministries might seem troubling but then the Mahinda Chinthana is effectively the ruling party’s manifesto. That is, providing we have a ruling party and not a single ruling man.

Much more worrying, however, are the enormous numbers of government departments, responsibilities and powers that have been brought under the aegis of the ruling family.
The Defence Ministry, Ministry of Finance, Ports and Aviation Ministry as well as the Transport Ministry are all under the direct control of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ably assisted, at least where defence is concerned, by younger brother Gotabaya.

And while we’ve come to accept the President wielding enormous power, the balance or imbalance of power has changed with the creation of the new Ministry of Economic Development under the purview of Basil Rajapaksa. With Basil Rajapaksa now taking control of ‘all regional development programmes,’ the ruling family will enjoy an even tighter stranglehold over the country’s vital institutions. The purview of the ministries under Rajapaksa control is vast, with dozens of state enterprises, a host of duties and sweeping powers.

The Defence Ministry, for example, now rather mystifyingly includes the Urban Development Authority.  What connection exists between urban development and defence is unclear. Pavement hawkers can be an annoyance, but are they really a threat to security?  Interestingly the Defence Ministry also issues travel documents, registers persons and is in charge of the reclamation and development of lands.

Beyond defence, however, the Finance Ministry, which contains no less than 46 different state departments and corporations — ranging from the all important state banks to the diminutive Lady Lochlor Fund – remains under Rajapaksa control. As does the Ports and Aviation Ministry which includes not only the nation’s ports but also SriLankan Airlines and of course Mihin Air.  And then there is the RDA behemoth which through the Transport Ministry has been kept in family hands.

But the jewel in the Rajapaksa’s crown is the newly created Economic Development Ministry under Basil Rajapaksa, which includes everything from the Zoological Gardens to the Tourist Promotions Bureau and the Board of Investment. Extraordinarily it also includes all regional development programmes including the massive Uthuru Wasanthaya programme and even the Wildlife Conservation Department.

The country seems to have reached a point of one family rule. Every aspect of our lives from the registry of our births, to the taxes we pay, the roads on which we drive on, and the documents we must carry in order to move freely, is under the control of Rajapaksas. Their domination is absolute.

The 38 or so remaining non Rajapaksa ministries appear puny things by comparison to the Rajapaksa’s mighty ministries. The Foreign Ministry for example, now renamed the External Affairs Ministry, is typically one of the most powerful in a nation’s cabinet. However in its present incarnation the Ministry contains little more than a handful of embassies and the Bureau of Foreign Employment.

The idea of a balance of power has been made utterly redundant and absolute power has been conferred on the ruling family. This is worrying because potentially conflicting institutions such as Economic Development and Wildlife Conservation have been placed under the purview of a single minister.

Basil Rajapaksa, who ripped a highway through the nation’s largest national park in the name of development, is now also in charge of wildlife protection.  So we can expect far fewer objections to development programmes based on the interests of wildlife.

And that sums up the danger of a system, where so much power is concentrated in so few hands. Those wielding the power can do as they want – there are no longer any limits and this Gazette makes that power official.

28 Comments for “94 Government Departments Under Direct Family Control”

  1. Eastwood

    GooD (Basil) BAD ( GOTA) UGLY (Mihnida) – Few dollars more………………Now in Action

    • fonny

      Any foreign Government, Institution or anyone giving financial aid, might as well deposit that money into the Rajapakse’s personal accounts, this saves time.

  2. ranjith

    go,Mahinda. go. go to the forward. take all the power and develop the country.we do not need anther leader . like as the foolish Ranil or somawansa.
    our full saport to you. Japan Srilankan friends.

    • Disna

      How can you be so moronic. Is that a couple of donkeies, who gave birth to you ? Just shut up and keep your foolishness to yourself.

      • Kandy Lamisi

        Well said Disna. Ranjith is talking from somewhere else., not his head.

        • leel

          his comment clearly shows that he does not seems to have one.

        • True Democrat

          Sorry Gys, Ranjith is not alone.We are a race with no vision and gratitude.

          I am not a Rajapakse admirer. Give him a chance, He might out do the great Singaporean leader Lee Kwan Yu.

          What we need is good goverence and a forcerful opposition to keep the government accountable.

          I may be day dreaming . Ha! Ha Ha!

    • Citizen Silva

      Ranjith, my dear friend, you need to have your head carefully examined.

      SL is becoming like Syria or Libya or North Korea;whose ruling families are now billionaires, power is passed father to son, dissent is crushed, the independent press are used to wipe the floor if they exist or have been wiped out, where people outside the family who are not sychophants.. the masses have no opportunity and are like prison labour.

      • Citizen Silva

        you will note (or perhaps you may not and others will note) the above means SL will be a couple of notches lower than Iran & may be one notch lower than Burma & Zimbabwe.

  3. CP

    So what? If the job is done who cares. Are you all jelous as no bombs, no war & stable Govt.

    • Disna

      You are definitely a frog in a very small well in a very remote Sri Lanka. So narrow minded. Just don’t be so blind.

      • Punchinilame

        The Voters deserve what they get – so why grumble.
        MR will go deeper into Society till some fatal mistake
        takes shape !!!

        • True Democrat

          I do agree with Punchinilame, MR did not force to vite for beatle leave. We elected the MR and his candidates. ( I did bot vote for MR).

          Lets accept the verdict of the people and do not cry foul.

  4. sagara

    more ministeries = more fun.

  5. religion

    Perhaps its time the Rajapakse clan took a trip to Russia in a polish plane

  6. religion

    Aney balapan machan mum thun denagay munay hati….Wanduro thun dennek wagay

    • Thuvan Mohideen

      che che kathai kathai karana weda gena katha karamu moona gena katha nokara. Moona lassana samaharu mole nethi harakne.

  7. Thuvan Mohideen

    Mr. Wijewardena
    I think you make one point absolutely wrong. The Foreign Ministry reincarnated as External Affairs has not diminished in power but it has got Foreign Employment Bureau as well under its control now. Earlier it was under some other ministry. So, do not criticize for the same of criticising – be objective and professional.


    • True Democrat

      Well said Thuvan and GL Peris is very capable man and will do a better professional job than his predecessor. Atleast he wont have birthday parties fo his family members at our expense.

      I hope he will recall all non career diplonats back .

  8. NonResident

    God Bless Ranil Wickramasinghe! for ensuring the reigns are in the hands of the Rajapaksha Family.

  9. Truth

    Sri Lankan people elected the Rajapaksha Family. Let them face the consequences!


    • True Democrat

      Hey Ceylon,
      Our family elected by Sri Lankan people and what’s wrong with that.

      Singapore , India , Pakistan, USA all ruled by family members at one time. There is no problem of running the country by one familyr as long as they serve the people and not the family.


  12. pinky

    when they have the spoon they can take as they like. But people voted for them.

  13. P.L.J.B.Palipana

    Dear Mr.Pinky,
    MR was voted as the Presidend of SL by the people(villages). Our majority of soldiers are from the same villages too.MR has to fulfil the aspirations of those people. In the present parliament we don’t have people like langarathne, Kalugalle, Maithreepala Senanayake, Kobbekaduwa, M.D.Banda, I.M.R.A.Iriyagolla, U.B.Wanninayake,A.C.S.Hameed, E.L.Senanayake, S.Thondaman, Kolwin, N.M.Perera ete.
    The most of the present parliamentarians have very bad tract records and it is better the President keep those Institutions under him.

    • True Democrat

      Dear Nr. Palipana,

      I do agree with you and we need to change the system to run like US.

      Need to appoint able sceretaries to run manage the ministries.

      If I run a milk bar , i wont employ them to run that milkbar.
      There are a very few people with capabilities

  14. Mike

    Excellent work. Sri Lanka is now a famility limited. Congratulations to the people who elected the board of trustee.

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