The new national unity government yesterday dumped some of the key members of the interim government’s economic team and appointed a new set of ministers to run the country’s economy.
This is except for Prime Minister and National Policy and Economic Development Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, who retained their previous portfolios.
United National Party (UNP) National List MP Malik Samarawickrama was sworn in as the Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, while former Deputy Justice Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe took oaths as the State Minister of International Trade.
The interim government’s State Minister of Youth Affairs and UNP MP Niroshan Perera was sworn in as the State Minister of National Policy and Economic Development, while United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP and Mahinda Rajapaksa government’s Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena took oaths as the State Minister of Finance.
The other two key members of the interim government’s economic team who retained their positions as public officials were Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and Treasury Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga. Meanwhile, a new Cabinet portfolio was created for State Enterprises where UNP MP and interim government’s Investment Promotion Minister Kabir Hashim was sworn in as the Minister.
UNP MP Eran Wickremeratne, who deputized him in the interim government, will continue to be Hashim’s deputy as the Deputy Minister of State Enterprises.
The interim government’s economic team was instrumental in formulating the new government’s economic policy, which they had dubbed “highly competitive knowledge-based social market economy”— a form of market capitalism adapted by the Germans.
The policy advocated by the team was well received, particularly by the country’s private sector and trade chambers who had been asking for a level playing field.
However, economist and the UNP’s spokesperson on economic affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva, a key advocate of the social market economic model and who deputized the Economic Affairs and Policy Planning Ministry and fondly called himself “the chap who’s running the policy shop”, was yesterday appointed as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Dr. de Silva was one of the firsts in the interim government to talk about formulating a competition-based market economy at various public and private sector forums organised after the January presidential election.
In the meantime, many believe that Dr. de Silva’s scathing criticisms on the misguided economic policies of the previous regime significantly contributed towards toppling the Rajapaksa government.
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