Due to the many allegations and criticism being levelled against the current Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, the President and Prime Minister have been receiving pressure from both parties demanding the removal of Karunanayake.
Accordingly, a cabinet reshuffle is expected to take place towards mid-March, it was reported.
The Prime Minister too is said to have agreed to the removal of Karunanayake from his post as the Finance Minister.
Meanwhile, Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka’s name too had been proposed for the post.
However, Ranawaka had declined the offer and several UNP seniors had also insisted that the position should remain with the UNP. Hence, Mangala Samaraweera has been suggested for the post.
But Mangala had declined the request querying as to how he could manage the country’s budget when he is not even capable of managing his own budget.
If Mahinda could, why not?
Last Thursday however, UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrema had told Mangala that if Mahinda Rajapaksa could have handled the post of Finance Minister for many years, there was no doubt that Mangala would have absolutely no issue in handling duties as the Finance Minister.
Several UNP seniors including Minister Kabir Hashim have urged Mangala to accept the position.
As Mangala is among the few politicians who has never faced any allegation of fraud or corruption throughout his career and as such is the best suited to handle the position of Finance Minister.
Foreign Minister’s controversial statements?
Meanwhile, certain members of the SLFP have been pressurising the President to remove Mangala from the post of Foreign Minister due to several controversial statements he makes and the manner in which he deals with international parties, as the Foreign Minister.
Hence, it would resolve both issues if the ministerial portfolios of the Finance Minister and Foreign Minister are exchanged within the UNP, the seniors have pointed out.
However, Samaraweera who had served briefly as the Deputy Finance Minister under former President Chandrika Bandaranaike’s government had so far not agreed to the request.
Request from Ravi
According to UNP internal sources however, Ravi Karunanayake had voiced his objections to the Prime Minister regarding his removal from the post if Finance Minister.
It is also revealed that Ravi had met with the President prior to his Indonesia tour and urged him not to remove him from his post.
Karunanayake is facing allegations of having put the country’s economy into crisis.
Particularly, according to the IMF report, it is stated that Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves have diminished, excessive foreign loans have been obtained, exports have decreased and the government has failed to introduce proper tax policies.
Allegations by many ministers
Meanwhile, several other Ministers have complained to the President that the Finance Minister is constantly attempting to meddle in affairs of other ministries coming under the scope of finance and attempting to take over these ministries as well.
He also stands accused of stepping beyond accepted financial regulations and helping his friends in business.
Best Finance Minister
However, despite these allegations, Karunanayake was adjudged the ‘Best Finance Minister in the Asia Pacific region’ by “The Banker” magazine, based on his efforts to stabilise the country’s finances.