Sri Lanka creates two new ministries to handle economic crisis

PTI, 10th Jun 2022

Colombo, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has created two new ministries, including an investment ministry, to handle the worst economic crisis in the island nation.



The role of the new ministry of 'Technology and Investment Promotion' will also be to promote foreign direct investment and private sector investment while promoting economic potential in Sri Lanka.

The new ministry was created after Basil Rajapaksa, former finance minister and the intellectual pillar of the Rajapaksa brothers, quit Parliament on Thursday.

Also, a 'Ministry of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment' was created through a gazette notice issued by President Gotabaya.

It is reported that the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs and Social Empowerment includes 15 institutions including the National Child Protection Authority and the Samurdhi Development Department, Colombo Page reported.

Basil said he was stepping down to allow someone suitable from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to replace him.

It is speculated that Dhammika Perera, a leading businessman is to replace Basil and be appointed to become the minister of Technology and Investment Promotion.

Perera in recent weeks has been making public suggestions of his plans to promote the flow of US dollars into the country in order to tackle the unprecedented economic crisis the island nation has faced since 1948.

Perera had headed the Board of Investment as a political appointee and was also the Secretary to the ministry of Highways between 2005-15 under the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Chinese built Colombo Port City and the government's investment promotion arm, the Board of Investment have been listed under the new technology ministry.

The telecommunications regulator and Sri Lanka Telecom alongside the Registrar of Persons and Department of Immigration and Emigration - all key institutions handled by Rajapaksa himself have also been listed under the new technology ministry.

Sri Lanka has been grappling with unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948. The economic crisis has created political unrest with protesters demanding President Rajapaksa's resignation.

The economic crisis has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and other fuel, toilet paper and even matches, with Sri Lankans for months being forced to wait in lines lasting hours outside stores to buy fuel and cooking gas.

An IMF bailout programme is being currently worked out and expected to be available in the last quarter of the year.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has announced that extended credit lines from India are being sought until the availability of the IMF facility.