Saturday, May 18, 2024

20th Amendment a recipe for a bloated cabinet

By The Pepper Spray Club

One of the elements in the 19th Amendment that Yahapalanists bragged about was limiting cabinet size. They didn’t mention the fact that the architects and yes-sayers (yes, a lot of people now with the ‘pohottuwa’ raised their hands) had inserted or approved the negation-clause, that of the so-called ‘national government,’ which allowed Parliament to determine cabinet size in the event there was, in fact, a ‘national government.’ That term was deliberately (we have to conclude) left vague and undefined.

The change that stares one in the face and yet doesn’t seem to warrant comment right now is the removal of the cabinet-size caveats. The ruling party and its allies have the numbers. With the ceiling being removed, cabinet portfolios become bait to lure opposition MPs in the event the arithmetic gets messy due to defection.

The 20th is not yet passed. Here’s a suggestion to the President: name ministries (keep it to less than 15 and ideally less than 10) so that no one can fiddle with cabinet size. Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed a 15-member cabinet after assuming power. This means that the number can be kept down. It doubled after the general election. Whim and fancy is the order of the day, then. All the more reason for control through constitutional means.


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