President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday effected key changes to the second tier of the Government with the appointment of Eran Wickremaratne as the State Minister for Finance and Dr. Harsha de Silva as the Deputy Minister for National Policies and Economic Affairs.
They were among four State Ministers and four Deputy Ministers sworn in yesterday by President Sirisena as a follow-up to last week’s mini-reshuffle of the Cabinet.
Private sector, banking industry and market analysts welcomed the selection of qualified and respected ex-banker Wickremaratne as the number two to Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who has set the right tone since assuming duties last week. Wickremaratne was previously the Deputy Minister for Public Enterprise Development. The stock market, which was down for three days owing to the deadly floods and profit-taking, bounced back yesterday on the strength of the new appointments, analysts opined.
Once a career banker, Wickremaratne went on to become a Vice President of Citibank in Sri Lanka in 1996. In 2000, he was involved in founding NDB Bank, which he became CEO of in 2001 and eventually resigned as NDB CEO to move into active politics in 2010. He was also the founder Chairman of the ICT Agency.
Vocal economist Dr. Harsha de Silva moves from the Deputy Foreign Affairs position to working directly under Prime Minister Wickremesinghe as Deputy for National Policies and Economic Affairs. Sources said that Dr. de Silva could be made a State Minister once the Attorney General’s opinion is obtained with regard to having two State Ministers for one ministry. The other existing State Minister is Niroshan Perera.
Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena was sworn in as State Minister of Public Enterprise Development. He was previously State Minister for Finance. Palitha Range Bandara was appointed State Minister of Irrigation while the young Wasantha Parakrama Senanayake was appointed State Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Ranjan Ramanayake was appointed Deputy Minister of Social Empowerment, Welfare and Kandyan Heritage and Karunaratne Paranavithane was named Deputy Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training.