10 June, 2023


Conceptualize, Strategize & Rationalize Ministerial Portfolios

By Nishthar Idroos

Nishthar Idroos

Nishthar Idroos

Conceptualize, Strategize & Rationalize Ministerial Portfolios Consistent With A Defined Vision For Sri Lanka

Another cabinet reshuffle is in the offing, so said a news item in one of the dailies. Like always many portfolios will be up for grabs. A good portion predictably would go to placate coalition partners. Few to comrades connected via respect and reciprocity. For sure there will be a portion reserved for that inimitable bunch of vocal protagonists ever ready to brandish their rapiers to preserve and protect the coalition. Amongst them deal makers and those that lost the election yet managed a swift re-entry via the back door. Not forgetting those habitually disgruntled and for sure the sheer radiance and eloquence of those who consider themselves entitled. I am sure I may have missed out on some if not many.

A simple question arises here? How can we employ the best team of ministers when support, loyalty and connections by far remain the sole criteria for allocation of ministerial portfolios? This debility is rooted tradition increasingly earning the vestige of a malaise in Sri Lanka. I suppose will remain so for a long time to come. There is nothing wrong in someone postulating refreshing cavalier type audacity to challenge this status quo. This paradox has to be challenged, In fact its high time forces coalesced to direct a U-turn to this kind of superficiality and untenable myopia.

Dreams are reached via the efficacy of people, policy and processes. Doubtless there is no substitute for human resources. Democratic politics implies the voter is intelligent. The irony is, party hierarchy led relegation of capable members of parliament, cretinous and obtuse demeanor of a few and expansive amounts of tolerance afforded to inure morons pose an intelligence challenge to the voter. By extension reduces the glitter of participatory democracy as an effective political tool. Also contracts the strain adopted in Sri Lanka to a derisory spectacle validating the proverbial claim of cynics.

How can a government blustering good governance and ambitious economic development weave incongruity and incompatibility in the structuring process of a cohesive, pragmatic and comprehensive plan matching candidates to tasks? This is fundamental and has to be done right. Fitting policy, people and processes is sine quo non for a system to function efficiently.

We lost to South Korea and Singapore. We lost to Malaysia and Thailand. We lost to Vietnam and Cambodia. Atleast let’s try and give a reasonably good fight to Bangladesh and Maldives. A lamentably sobering fact.

A meaningful and systematic process of envisioning a desired future for the country and translating this vision into broadly defined goals and objectives vis a vis each ministry is necessary. The government should not just promise transformation but deliver it palpably. Let’s hope a realistic thought process is worked out towards this end.

The situation is even challenging in the context of a cohabitation government. If selection and replacement of ministers is on the basis of government’s political calculations and not merit or strategic vision there can arise major misalignments, disconnections and attendant inefficiencies. Such an approach goes contrary to the tenets of creating a truly vibrant economy.

The most deserving jockey must be given the seat, not the one who got the highest number of preferential votes or the one who brokered the best deal cajoling seemingly rebel and opposition members of parliament. Time has come to eschew and shun lopsided policy which is nothing but a mockery.

Post-liberalization Sri Lanka had leaders of stature. Leaders who had good traits of leadership. Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake, Ronnie De Mel, A C S Hameed to name a few. The country needs better leaders today, much better leaders because the landscape is different, the realities are different and so are the opportunities.

We need leaders who are strategic thinkers who could identify a clear niche for Sri Lanka. Leaders who can also uphold sound social policy by shaming communalists, propagandists and downright charlatans for their fanaticism, demagoguery, and general crime unleashed at the expense of working indefatigably for the common good of the people.

A culture needs to be built where excellence is not only rewarded but hatched and nurtured. Mediocrity too should receive its due place – zero tolerance.

Now let’s try and look at an example of how the planning process for a grand project needs to be initiated. Quick, convenient and safe mobility is integral for a burgeoning economy like Sri Lanka. None would deny this. Transport is the life blood of a nation. There is no nation on earth that had made vast strides in economic development without a vibrant transport system. An essential forerunner to an effective transport system is a futuristic policy plan. The lack of one is quite evident in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka never had a grand, holistic, sustainable and strategic vision for transport & allied infrastructure embracing the entire length and breadth of the country. A situational analysis of the reality, future demands, the ever escalating pollution levels, accidents and its attendant horror and other financial costs are matters that would need comprehensive deliberation for the road transport and infrastructure sector.

In Canada where the writer lives, just four months after being elected to power Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau tabled the report of the Canada Transportation Act Review in Parliament. Minister Marc Garneau a former astronaut and first Canadian to go to outer space. Served as president of the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 to 2006. Mind boggling credentials for a Transport Minister. In April 2016, the Minister of Transport began consulting Canadians, stakeholders, and provinces to hear views and discuss ideas for a long-term agenda for transportation in Canada.

Marc Garneau’s theme of balancing economic, environmental and safety issues echoed the message of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who had consistently emphasized the need to boost the economy whilst taking environmental issues seriously.

Minister Garneau travelled 18,000 kilometers from coast to coast to host roundtables with more than one hundred key industry representatives, academics and thinkers and indigenous groups across Canada. This is how a G8 member and Transport Minister of the world’s second largest country in the world works. He better, if not he’ll be thrown out at the next election.

Minister Garneau focused on five themes:

Safer Transportation – How can we keep travelers and communities safe?

Trade Corridors To Global Markets – How can we get the best economic benefits from Canada’s key trade routes to global markets?

Green And Innovative Transportation – How can new technologies help us?

  • Minimize the impact of transportation on our natural environment?
  • Make our transportation system safer, more secure and more competitive?

The Traveller – How can we provide Canadian travellers with better service as well as more, and more affordable choices?

Waterways, Coasts and the North – What improvements to the marine transportation system do you think would balance economic growth, greater environmental protection, and boating safety?

  • This includes ideas to improve vital connections within and to the North, to advance or unlock its economic growth potential.
  • Improve environmental performance,
  • Maintain transportation safety.
  • Protect the sensitive northern environment.

The aforestated framework is being expeditiously translated to policy. Implementation hopefully will commence after due ratification.

Sri Lanka needs this kind of policy and action plan. One need not necessarily be a grand professional to head a ministry. A talented visionary would be quite sufficient. Vision, policy and planning are indispensable. It would be ideal if the current administration could conceptualize in these lines for a super ministry for Transport & Infrastructure. This is hugely necessary for the long term wellbeing of the nation. Bringing the following subject areas under one roof would be quite meaningful. This approach reflects a collective, cohesive and concerted effort to realize a vision with multiple synergy.

  • Road Transport & Infrastructure
  • Railway Transport & Infrastructure
  • Inland Transport & Infrastructure
  • Ocean Transport(Shipping) & Infrastructure
  • Air Transport (Aviation) & Infrastructure
  • Green & Hybrid Transport & Infrastructure.

This ministry could have six or more equally talented deputies and any amount of state ministers if necessary depending on how the subjects are structured.

Intelligently construed and delineated subject areas and matching them with suitable candidates regardless of the numbers is a praiseworthy act, than giving ill-conceived, hastily prepared and enigmatic job specifications to energetic pole vaulters who spend most of their precious time warming “Made in Malaysia” Executive chairs at the same time paying obscene rents for their plush offices.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 4

    I only hope Hon.Mahinda Samarasing will be considered for the extremely important portfolio- Tourism which is one of the main lifeblood of the Country’s economy.

    With his extended swiss family connections, I am more than convinced he will do a remarkable job out of it.

    And it is also time to appoint Hon.Sarath Fonseka as Minister of Interior and bring the UDA and Social media also under the same Ministry.

    When a Country has a national government it may be wise to have a joint executive PM from both major parties and appoint a ceremonial President from the Minority (same as India).

    It would be further feasible to appoint premiers to each province and Electoral Head Ministers for each electorate with deputies for each sector and cover the Villages with a village headman and a cooperative society and manage the Towns with a Town Council.

    • 6

      You are quite right Mr. Idroos,

      But the fact of the matter is that Ranil has got a team of Economic Hit Men who are totally out of touch with global trends including de-globalization, the fact that there is very little FDI out there because of global debt and Trump policies. This team of economic hit men are drawing up laws to evict people from their homes and hand over the land to Chinese and American “investors” based on flimsy promises. The Volks Wagon car factory was a good example.

      The Volkswagon Corporation which is in hot water in US and EU for cheating sold huge numbers of Audis to Ranil and his cronies while pretending to invest in a factory!

      Ranil’s economic hit men team with the Volkswagon foot note man Harsha de Silva is not doing any DUE DILIGENCE on so-called supposed Chinese and US “investments” for which massive tracks of land are being appropriated and people being thrown out of their homes. Ranil is committing crimes against Sri Lankan people in the name of development on the instruction of Harvard economic hit men!

      Truth is Sri Lanka would not be at the lower depths if Ranil had not collaborated with MR all those years while in the opposition. Ranil took over the corruption mantle from MR that is the truth.

      • 1

        Hoaxwagen; eelam boy pulled a fast one over Ranil’s desperate eyes. He gets land, tax free, power, water roads supplied for an “assembly plant” without specifications as to which automobile they will assemble. Ranil ands his mouthpieces like HdeS and Eran and Malick desperately wanted to show they are getting western FDIs. Epic fail. Maybe they will assemble cars from Ghana or bring in spare parts and used parts and claim they are new cars..! Jayaweywa

  • 2

    deputy Prime Minister is used to bring political stability and strength within a coalition government

    The Deputy Prime Minister of India is a member of the Union Cabinet in the Government of India. Not technically a constitutional office, it seldom carries any specific powers. A Deputy Prime Minister usually also holds a key cabinet portfolio such as home minister or Finance Minister. In the parliamentary system of government, the Prime Minister is treated as the “first among equals” in the cabinet; the position of Deputy Prime Minister is used to bring political stability and strength within a coalition government or in times of national emergency, when a proper chain of command is necessary.


    The parliamentary republic, is a parliamentary system in which the presidency is largely ceremonial with either de facto or no significant executive authority (such as the President of Austria) or de jure no significant executive power (such as the President of Ireland), and the executive powers rests with the Prime …
    In Canada, a premier is the head of government of a province or territory. Though the word is merely a synonym for prime minister, it is employed for provincial prime ministers to differentiate them from the Prime Minister of Canada. There are currently 10 provincial premiers and three territorial premiers. These persons are styled The Honourable only while in office,

    Under Canada’s system of responsible government, the premier is both a member of the provincial legislative assembly and the head of the executive. The premier normally holds a seat in the legislative assembly, being elected in one of the electoral constituencies of the province. The leader of the party which commands a majority in the assembly is then legally appointed the premier.


    In Canada, a deputy minister is the senior civil servant in a government department. He or she takes political direction from an appointed minister . Responsibility for the department’s day-to-day operations, budget, and program development lie with the deputy minister.

    Sri Lanka needs a modern constitution by borrowing concepts from developing and first world countries envisage it into a homegrown system asap.

    It should let each federal province run their own province without interfering with each having its own budget and planning and The Federal government should exercise its executive powers only if people appeal against corruption.

    Please Consider Changing the flag with displaying the map of Sri Lanka and the four Religous Symbols and displaying the Buddhist symbol in the center.

    And it is quite ridiculous to have a lion or a Tiger as a crest when the country has neither of them – The crest should be replaced with The elephant which is synonymously sacred for both the major religions of the nation Buddhists and Hindus and is a majestic animal and more symbolic to the Nation.

  • 0

    “Please Consider Changing the flag with displaying the map of Sri Lanka and the four Religous Symbols and displaying the Buddhist symbol in the center. “

    what about China. they need to be accommodated in the flag

  • 0

    Dear respected Sirs.Kalupahana & Rajash

    Both seem to be playing one track broken record, Suddenly Chinese and their Money both become so anti in Sri Lanka, even by their one-time best friend MR.

    The Chinese are neither interested invading a land of lethargic society nor colonizing it.

    The Chinese are the real victims here, They gave their money to a nation who can not honor to return it.

    So what do you both suggest? no point in condemning and criticizing any fool can do that & most fools do.

    Do you have a way out to return the money that they lent you? Or do you intend in dishonoring them?

    Just pay back the billions you owe them and they will find 100 and one nations who will be on their knees today to accept them with red carpet.

    Or are you afraid knowing well that sons of this soil from all races except the Tamils can’t sweat out when it comes to the Chinese?

    Even if it was MR in power or any other Politician they would have done the same may be in their own way.

    Unless you can provide a solution best reserve your comments to criticize and condmen besides it will save your bandwidth too.

    • 0

      Hey “Any fool can condemn & Critisize

      I agree with what you say.

      That is why we need to accommodate them in the Sri Lankan flag as a reminder to the people of Sri Lanka, including those who are not even born, that they will be indebted to China for the next 99 years and most probably for another 99 years.

  • 0

    Glad you live in an open CHRISTIAN liberal democracy and not in a backward Arab nation where oil gushes. Imagine that!! Christian western nations are liberal because they are protestant and not because of Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism. Reality check. In Denmark the backward Arabs tried to force Danes to shut down pubs. Not gonna happen. The Sharia thugs wanted to stop the Danes and impose Sharia law. Not gonna happen. Long live western white predominantly CHRISTIAN democracies. Indians, Chinese, Lankans of all types, Africans all thrive in USA, Canada, Britain, France, Germany etc but mostly because we former commonwealth people speak English we thrive in USA, Canada and England. Long live Liberal CHRISTIAN nations of the west. Without you, we will still be suffering in Sri Lanka

  • 1

    TrooDoh – Glad you live in an open CHRISTIAN liberal democracy.?

    You are so poorly informed , I recommend you start reading, This shows how tiny your mind is and how little you know about Constitutions of other nations around the world and how little you know about the hypocrisy ofdemocracy and riligous bigotry in “some of the The west” and its ills.

  • 0

    KalaVeddha -a Very appropriate nick suiting the contents of the comments.

    However The question posed now is how to pay back our beloved Chinese friends who stood by us in our hhour of need??????

    Just answer the crucial question and please stop monkeying around .

  • 0

    What is urgently needed is to find ways to ease the burden of debts the nation is ridden with and find ways to drive the private sector into motion.

    While the private sector is the anchor of the nation and the public sector in most nations are the parasites, it is extremely important to support the private sector to help the nation survive.

    The day Sri Lanka stops the freebies this Country and people will progress.

    The self-employed and private sector should be treated with dignity and supported, even pavements hawkers and Three-wheel drivers are far better and deserve the respect than “some”(not all) of the Public sectors for they are self-employed and at least they are contributing to the economy rather than being a parasite, it is these urban folks The government need to come up with more incentives and encouragement.

  • 0

    we Sri Lankans must come out of this stupidity of webbing ourselves with petty racism and bigotry and move towards a progressive Lanka.

    The biggest drain on the nation is from most of our public institutions.

    This is what happens when people are given free handouts they do not value it, most of them get free education and they and the middle-income folks do not realise who is paying.

    It is not the big corporates that feel the pang, it is the middle-income earners, starting from Three wheels, private bus and transport operators, pavement hawkers, small restaurants, etc. who are paying through their nose to keep up the age old pension scheme.

    The government should seriously come up with a Provident fund scheme for them which in return would enable the government to give more incentives to the deserving self-employed.

    I am really not sure exactly how much the Three wheelers and others
    pay as revenue taxes etc to the government, but at a wild guess if one takes the number of Three wheels in the country which is approximately 1 million x (if) @ Rs.500 revenue licence alone is 500,000,000.00 annual revenue to the government that is just from the licence alone of the Three wheelers.It is these folks the government need to educate these folks could benefit of privatising and introduce of provident fund contribution.

    It is these folks who should support it mostly as the big corporates do not feel the burden of paying.

    Any Political party that encourages freebies do not really care for the nation or people, they would go on borrowing to please a particular segment who are their guaranteed voter bank and keep the nation and people indebted for generations. So you need to educate them and let them decide if they want their future generations to be in debts forever like them?

    The Choice is theirs, The government need to go to these people and talk to them and reach out and look into their grievances .

    We need to move on and change a must.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.