Parliament today approved a proposal to increase the cabinet to 48 members after a vote was taken and it was passed by a majority.
After a full day debate, 143 members voted in favour of having 48 cabinet and 45 non-cabinet Ministers while 16 voted against it and 63 parliament members were absent.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, National Freedom Front and MP Udaya Gammanpilla voted against the proposal.
The Tamil National Alliance, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and a group of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members were absent when the vote was taken.
Under the 19th Amendment to the constitution, Parliament approval is required to appoint a cabinet of more than 30 members.
Accordingly now with Parliament approving a 48 member cabinet, the new cabinet of the National Government, which includes Sri Lanka Freedom Party and United National Party members, will take oaths tomorrow.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that today will be remembered as a red letter day in Sri Lanka’s political history as for the first time since Independence a National Government has been formed with Parliamentary approval.
He said that this is the first genuine National Government in post-independence Sri Lanka. He said that the reset in political culture was also demonstrated in the unanimous appointment of the Opposition Leader.
“The upholding of Parliamentary convention and tradition marks a departure from the divisive and self-interested partisanship which was a hallmark of our politics since independence. The appointment of Mr. R. Sampanthan, one of the most senior and respected politicians in the country, as Opposition Leader also reflects Sri Lanka’s commitment, resolve and determination to the reconciliation process and the establishment of a Sri Lanka where every citizen feels that they are free and equal. In the new Sri Lanka no one would be denied their rightful place in society due to race, religion, caste or gender,” he said.
The Foreign Minister said that the National Government will ensure the formation and implementation of urgently needed national policies. In particular a new Constitution that will include a Bill of Rights will be passed. This constitution will not only take into account civil and political rights but economic, social and cultural rights as well. It will be a Constitution that addresses the requirements of all citizens and communities; one which will allow greater public participation in decision-making processes. (Colombo Gazette)