Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe assumes duties in office in the presence of Petroleum Resources Development Minister Arjuna Ranathunga, Transport Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva, Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha and Ports and Shipping Ministry Secretary L.P. Jayampathy
Mahinda Samarasinghe assumed duties in office yesterday as the new Ports and Shipping Minister.
The function took place at the Ports and Shipping Ministry, No: 19, Chaithya Road, Colombo 1, amidst the blessings of Maha Sangha and a large gathering of ministers, deputy ministers and officials of a number of government institutions.
Samarasinghe was the former Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister. During the cabinet reshuffle on May 22, 2017, he was vested upon the portfolio of ports and shipping and took oaths as the new Ports and Shipping Minister before President Maithripala Sirisena.
Expressing views to the media after assuming duties in office Samarasinghe stated that he was well aware of the challenges ahead as he took over the leadership of the ministry.
“I have no doubt that we can overcome these challenges,” he said.
Speaking further, the minister said that what is important was to put the country in the first place.
“The country’s interests are paramount and must be foremost. With that we can ensure that we contribute towards the rapid economic growth of Sri Lanka. The Ports and Shipping Ministry being one of the key ministries, can significantly contribute towards the sustainable economic development of Sri Lanka and the well-being of its people,” the minister added.
He also said that the doors are open at any time for the trade unions for discussions to upgrade and maintain industrial peace in every matter to ensure smooth and efficient port operations towards the highest productivity in the competitive maritime sector.
Having joined the Sri Lanka Overseas Service, Samarasinghe served as the First Secretary to the Sri Lanka High Commission in Australia and as Counsellor for the Sri Lankan Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva during the 1980s. He has also represented Sri Lanka at the International Labour Organisation (ILO), World Health Organisation, International Telecommunication Union and the World Meteorological Organisation.
Whilst working at the Sri Lanka Mission in Geneva, he represented Sri Lanka at almost all of the Governing Body meetings of the ILO in 1986 and 1987, as well as the International Labour Conference (ILC) from 1985–1987. At the end of the 1987 ILC, he successfully presented a draft resolution on ‘Workers Housing,’ which was adopted at the conference.
Samarasinghe entered active politics in 1988 and was elected to the Provincial Council of the Western Province, where he served as the Leader of the House of the Provincial Council and the Provincial Minister of Health and Economic Infrastructure.
In 1994, he was elected to parliament from the Kalutara District and was re-elected in the elections held in 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2010. During the period 2001-2004, he served as the Cabinet Minister of Employment and Labour. He was the Government Chief Whip from 2001–2004 and the Opposition Chief Whip from 2004-2006.
He also served as Cabinet Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights from 2006-2010 and Minister of Plantation Industries from 2010-2015. He was also a member in the Parliamentary Consultative Committees of the Ministries of Trade, Commerce, Industries, Finance and Foreign Affairs.