New Cabinet in Lanka

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President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda will continue, while some new faces will be taken in as Cabinet ministers, reports Ashoke Raj

Amid the ongoing anti-government protests in Sri Lanka following the economic and political crisis, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is all set to draft fresh blood in the council of ministers in the island nation while it has been learnt that the size of the Cabinet would remain small to ensure smooth functioning of the government.

The swearing-in of the ministers would be taking place today amid spiralling protests against the government.

“New cabinet is to be sworn in today. President and PM (Mahinda Rajapaksa) to continue. Some new and young faces will be taken in as Cabinet ministers,” a ruling party MP told ANI.

Sources also told ANI that in the recent meeting, the “President told the members of his political alliance to constitute a limited Cabinet to run the government”.

The entire Sri Lankan Cabinet resigned in the first week of April due to massive anti-government protests.

An opposition party in Sri Lanka opposed the decision of the President to appoint a new Cabinet with inexperienced ministers.

President is, incidentally, constituting a new Cabinet seemingly under the pressure of the protesters in the country and also ahead of the Parliament session.

Sri Lankan Parliament is going to meet on April 19 with new Cabinet ministers while the Opposition is likely to step up pressure on the back of the mounting protests.

In the last Parliament session, ruling party MPs had said, “President is not going to resign from his post before completing his tenure.”

Sri Lanka is facing a foreign exchange shortage, which has affected its capacity to import food and fuel. The shortage of essential goods forced Sri Lanka to seek assistance from friendly countries.

The economic situation has led to huge protests with demands for the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Earlier, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in a special address to the nation had requested people to remain patient and stop taking to the streets in order to enable the government to resolve the situation.

Stock market closing

Sri Lanka’s largest business group Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has opposed a decision by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to close the stock market for five working days.

By shutting down the stock market, potential sellers are prevented from exiting the market at the time and price of their choice, and potential buyers are prevented from acquiring shares, the Chamber said on Sunday.

“All investors will be unable to carry out valuations and mark to market their respective investment portfolios,” Chairman of the Chamber, Vish Govindasamy said in a letter to SEC Chairman Viraj Dayaratne.

Govindasamy said there are circuit breakers in place to arrest a sharp movement in market indices, and the Chamber believes that there is no need to close the market in this manner sending out a wrong signal to all investors across the globe, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Therefore, we earnestly request you to reconsider this move and direct the Colombo Stock Exchange to operate freely even amid challenging market conditions safeguarding its reputation as an investor-friendly stock market,” he added.

On Saturday, the SEC announced that it had decided to direct the Colombo Stock Exchange to temporarily close the stock market for a period of five business days starting April 18.

The SEC said it would be in the best interests of investors as well as other market participants if they are afforded an opportunity to have more clarity and understanding of the economic conditions presently prevalent, in order for them to make informed investment decisions.

The Colombo Stock Exchange has been adversely affected by the economic woes in the South Asian country and the index has fallen 26 per cent by the end of March compared to the end of 2021.

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