Ministers sacked by party ahead of crucial budget vote in Parliament
COLOMBO – At least two front-line ministers in the Sri Lankan government have been suspended by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) for breach of party discipline, it was announced on Tuesday (22).
“They have been suspended temporarily until they offer explanations,” Dayasiri Jayasekera, the party general secretary, told reporters.
Minister of Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva and Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera along with three other junior ministers in the government of President Ranil Wickremesinghe were sacked by the SLFP’s central committee which met on Monday (21) night.
The party held that they had violated the central committee’s decision not to be part of the government.
The suspensions came ahead of the parliamentary approval vote of budget 2023 which is due to be unveiled later this evening.
However, the party suspensions do not mean the two ministers are sacked from the cabinet of Wickremesinghe.
Wickremesinghe, who is also the minister of finance, has proposed tax reforms to raise government revenue as part of his measures to overcome the current economic crisis due to the shortage of foreign exchange in the island nation.
The economic crisis led to wide-scale protests across the country, leading to the resignation of the then president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Wickremesinghe, who took over in the middle of the crisis, promised economic reforms to bring the country back on the growth track.
His proposals to privatize some of the state business ventures have caused heartburn among parliamentarians alleging that Wickremesinghe had even targeted Sri Lanka Telecom which is making profits.
Some have vowed to oppose the privatisation move by voting against the budget.
The SLFP sacking of its seniors have added significance as among those shown out is the former leader of the SLFP, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, who was the president of the country between 1994 and 2005.
Kumaratunga was until Monday a patron of the party formed by her father SWRD Bandaranaike.