- Meeting said to be inconclusive but positive
- Instructions came out of the blue says ministry
- Ministry assumes decision online with
- completion of service term of some board members
- Instruction to dissolve but not overnight, clarifies ministry
By Chathuri Dissanayake
Senior United National Party Ministers yesterday held discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena in an attempt to persuade the latter to reverse the decision to dissolve the boards of directors of several state institutions.
The President on Wednesday issued instructions to dissolve the director boards of Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank and the Board of Investment, deepening the rift between the coalition partners. The move to dissolve the boards of institutions coming under two ministry portfolios held under senior UNP ministers came immediately after the media reported a clash between the President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet Secretary later denied such an incident.
The UNP yesterday issued an official settlement saying that a group of representatives from the party was to meet the President to discuss the decision taken by the President to “dissolve the director boards appointed by UNP ministers to three institutions under their subject ministries.”
Public Enterprise Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Highways and Road Development Minister Kabir Hashim are said to have met Sirisena last evening to discuss the issue.
Discussions, although inconclusive, ended on a positive note, one source confirmed, indicating that the decision may be overturned.
According to sources at the Public Enterprise Development Ministry, the instructions from the President came without warning. No discussion was held between the subject minister or ministry officials before the decision was made by the President, highly-placed ministry sources told Daily FT.
“We assume that this may be because some of the members on the director boards have completed the three-year period of service, so he may have wanted to reconstitute the boards,” one ministry source speculated.
However, when the instructions were received by the ministry, the Minister is said to have requested a meeting to discuss the matter with the President before a final decision was made.
However, the instructions did not say the removal was with immediate effect, the source clarified.
Nevertheless, moves were under way to carry out the instructions unless the decision was overturned.
“It is not possible to remove the board of a bank overnight as this will hamper the functioning of the bank,” a ministry official clarified.