The Sunday Leader

Prospects Of The Gargantuan Cabinet

The gigantic number of cabinet, state and deputy ministers keeps mounting with such frequency that it is quite a difficult task to keep pace with the expansion. At the time of writing the collective number is nearing a century.

With nine provincial councils comprising chief ministers and ministers for various subjects, Sri Lanka could possibly claim a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of ministers to look after the interests of only 20 million people. Critics have pointed out that India, with a population of 2.1 billion and being a sub-continent stretching from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, has only 31 cabinet ministers and 39 ministers of state.

Giant-sized cabinets are not a new political phenomenon in this little island. The previous government set a precedent with an equally gargantuan-sized cabinet and a swarm of state and deputy ministers of the same multitude. The Sri Lankan tradition of following bad precedents has been followed.

The bureaucratic and security backup for these legislators could far outnumber the ministers and the financial burdens placed by them on public expenditure which could, if diverted, help alleviate quite a number living in poverty. To these unfortunates, glib politicians have pledged to alleviate poverty ever so often.

It could be argued that this large number of ministers is justified because of tremendous development plans envisaged in election manifestos of the constituent parties. But the public will have doubts about the capabilities of very many of them going by the past performances they are known for: creating rumpuses both inside and outside parliament for petty political gains.

If the politicians can contribute a worthwhile service to the people, the funds and resources devoted to them would be justifiable but previous experience gives no such hopes.

This gargantuan cabinet, with their equally large number of junior ministers, begs the question: What kind of public services are this army of politicians with their bureaucracy going to provide or are capable of?

There are qualified professionals both in the UNP and SLFP ranks who understand the kind of development called for to match economic development abroad. Some young politicians have displayed their talents on TV, the print media and the pubic have placed their confidence in them by returning them to parliament with unprecedented majorities. For the benefit of the country they should not be covered by the pall of their seniors who are less competent or be pushed to the background by electoral rejects who are now ministers.

The cabinet of ministers, as well as their junior ministers, have already been sworn in but there should be no reluctance to re-shuffle the cabinet or re-allocate posts of junior ministers if the occasion demands.

The large size of the cabinet and appointment of rejected candidates by their electorate have been justifiably criticised by the public including the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, who was the spearhead in the breakup of the previous regime and the formation of the new government. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena have not reacted to these criticisms as yet. It will be prudent if these leaders give ear to such criticisms which have been levelled while the government is in its infancy.

The issue of defeated candidates and unnecessary enlargement on the number of junior ministers seem to mainly involve the SLFP faction of the government. Rumblings within the SLFP are heard loud and clear. Whether the intake of ‘loyalists’ who have been his bitter critics and supporters of Mahinda Rajapaksa can assure him loyalty and security is keeping well wishers of the National Government wondering.

The welfare of this National Government is of prime importance to the welfare of the nation. Criticism directed at it is made with the best of intentions.

3 Comments for “Prospects Of The Gargantuan Cabinet”

  1. Malin

    Rajapaksa regime did wrong by maintaining a mega cabinet that’s why Rv Maduluwe Sobhita and the so called puravesi Balaya together with UNP ousted Rajapaksa regime for YAHAPALNAYA. But the Rev.Sobhita thero and puravesi balaya and other NGOs are silent over the new Govt’s mega cabinet. Rev Sobitha voiced dissatisfaction of the Mega Cabinet only once at a press conference and that’s that and he became silent. Is this Yahapalnaya? President Sirisena has not cared too hoots for Rev.Sobhita’s objection.

  2. Lanka Watch

    The Editor, Sunday Leader.

    The author of this article should know that India has a population of 1.2 billion
    people and not 2,1 billion as mentioned in the report. It could be a typo. error
    and it should be corrected as it could mislead the people.

    Suggest the same author advise the public as to how much of public money
    will be wasted to maintain the jumbo cabinet of 100 MPs Plus the chief minsters
    of nine provinces and their ministers plus the Governors and staff.. This will certainly get into the Guinness Book of Records. .

  3. C Pinto

    To implement good governance there is only one solution left for the President and the PM. That is to increase the ministries to 116 forming a clear majority for the national government of ministers and all other MPs who do not hold ministries to sit on the opposition forming a strong credible opposition.

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