Speaking to media at SLPP head office, Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris claimed the UNP was attempting to form a National Government ahead of Presidential Elections expected later this year. He insisted this was the next step of the UNP campaign ahead of forming an alliance to be named the National Democratic Front (NDF) on 5 August.
The UNP a few weeks ago announced that they will form an alliance on 5 August with existing partners and hinted of possible breakaway members from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to join them.
“Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella is laying the groundwork to present a resolution to Parliament and it is listed in the Order Book for 31 July. They are expecting to increase the number of Cabinet Ministers to 48 and Deputy Ministers to 45. This is a move that cannot be accepted and we will not back this move,” Prof. Peiris said.
Prof. Peiris argued only the political parties that obtained the highest number of seats in Parliament can form a National Government, only then can the number of members in the Cabinet be 48 and the number of Deputy Ministers should not exceed 45.
“This is a move that cannot be accepted and it is unconstitutional. At the moment there are only 28 functioning ministers but we feel that is more than enough to run the country. Given the situation what the UNP is trying is an unnecessary move.”
He claimed the resolution will deepen the tussle between the Executive and the Legislature and questioned the intention of the UNP in attempting to expand the Cabinet as it would drive up government expenditure at a time when government revenues have taken a bad hit after the Easter Sunday attacks.
“The State spends millions of taxpayer money to maintain one Cabinet Minister and increasing the number of Cabinet Ministers will result in a waste of expenditure for the State. This is money that could be used to do many more productive things for the people. But this Government does not care about that,” he charged.