Colombo, Feb 4 – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is under pressure from his party to take the finance portfolio and head off internal dissension, sources close to the leadership said Friday.
The Economynext in a report said stalwarts within the ruling United National Party (UNP) have been speculating about cabinet changes amid unrest over Finance minister Ravi Karunanayake’s style of leading fiscal policy.
“The PM is likely to take over the finance portfolio and get a deputy minister to run the ministry on a day-t0-day basis,” one of the party officials said.
He said Enterprise Development ministry deputy Eran Wickramaratne was tipped to be the deputy finance minister while Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake was considered for Petroleum Resources.
Names of Enterprise Development minister Kabir Hashim had also been mentioned as a possible finance minister, but there was increasing pressure on the Prime Minister to take the job.
Current Petroleum Minister Chandima Weerakkody is tipped to get the Lands portfolio which is currently held by Tourism minister John Amaratunga.
Since the death of lands minister M. K. D. S Gunawardana in January last year there had been no full minister named to replace him.
The name of state minister Sarath Amunugama was also being mentioned, but the UNP was against giving him finance as he represented the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) although he had been a UNP member earlier.
President Maithripala Sirisena is believed to have given his tacit nod for a re-allocation of certain ministries soon after the Independence Day, but insiders say there could also be delays as seniors mount pressure on the top leaders.
Several revenue proposals of Minister Karunanayake had been countermanded by the President but at the same time he had shown results by increasing revenue collection significantly.
Finance minister usually become unpopular within their parties as the treasury cuts funding for ministries given the challenging fiscal management.