Cabinet reshuffled for new ministers for six key ministries

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday, August 16, reshuffled the Cabinet by changing the Ministers holding six key Ministries.

Minister Professor G. L. Peiris, who was the Minister of Education, was sworn in as the Foreign Minister before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday. Prof. Peiris has held this portfolio earlier as well and is well-known in foreign capitals and diplomatic circles.

Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, took oaths as the Minister of Education. He has earlier held the post of Deputy Minister of Education. They were the only two ministers whose portfolios were swapped. Education is also a very challenging field, given the difficulties posed by the pandemic.

Minister Gamini Lokuge took charge of the Power Ministry. There will be no change in the Energy Minister portfolio, which remains with Minister Udaya Gammanpila.

Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, who held the Ministry of Health, has been appointed as the Minister of Transport while Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, who held the Media Ministry, has been placed in charge of the Health Ministry. For both Ministers, it is the first time they will be holding the respective portfolios.

Of all the new ministers, perhaps the biggest challenge is being faced by Minister Rambukwella, in the backdrop of the critical pandemic situation in the country.

Many will be looking forward to hearing his plans to lead the country out of the present health crisis.

Minister Dullas Alahapperuma who was the Minister of Power took oaths as the Minister of Mass Media before the President yesterday. He has previously held many important portfolios including Sports. He was the Minister of Education before being appointed as the Minister of Power.

The President also appointed Minister Namal Rajapaksa as the Minister of Development Coordination Monitoring in addition to his current portfolio of Youth and Sports. This is an all-new Ministry.

Youths and Sports Minister, Namal Rajapaksa in a tweet thanked the President for appointing him as the Minister of Development Coordination Monitoring to expedite the President’s vision ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’.

“I thank [email protected] and [email protected] for entrusting me with this new portfolio, the Ministry of Development Planning and Monitoring. I hope to work closely with the Ministers, State Ministers and Members of Parliament to expedite the Vistas of Prosperity & Splendour manifesto,” he tweeted.

New Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella in a tweet thanked his predecessor Pavithra Wanniarachchi for her exceptional efforts in handling COVID-19 pandemic in the country effectively.

“I am privileged and honoured to be appointed by [email protected] & [email protected] as the Health Minister. I thank my colleague Pavithra Wanniarachchi for the stellar job she has accomplished in handling the #COVID19SL pandemic to date,” he tweeted.

New Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma yesterday evening assumed duties at the Ministry in Narahenpita. The Minister later held a discussion with Ministry Secretary, Jagath P. Wijeweera and senior Ministry officials and inquired about the progress of the activities of the Ministry and the institutions coming under the Ministry purview.

The Minister has informed officials that he will give priority to begin television and radio channels dedicated to the education of schoolchildren who have been deprived of in-person schooling for over one year.

The other Ministers are expected to assume duties at the respective ministries and offices over the next few days.

Meanwhile, new Education Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena received the blessings of the Chief Incumbent of the Dharmayathanaya, Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera yesterday. The Minister arrived at the temple yesterday evening.

The Thera said that Minister Gunawardena has confidence in winning the challenges faced by the education sector under the present circumstances, where education has been hampered by the pandemic and teachers are keeping away from online classes due to salary issues.

“Our education system needs a complete overhaul. Our repeated requests to have it changed have fallen on deaf ears,” the Ven. Thera said.

Meanwhile former Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told the media that she did not know about the sudden Cabinet reshuffle. “I never thought that this change would happen all of a sudden.”

Minister Wanniarachchi thanked the entire Ministry staff for working as a team to face the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new-look Cabinet will meet soon in Colombo.