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* Sri Lanka opposition leader challenges the President to reduce the cabinet now
Wed, Mar 3, 2010, 09:27 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 03, Colombo: The leader of the opposition alliance United National Front Ranil Wickremasinghe challenged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to reduce the number of ministers in the Cabinet now instead of waiting until after the elections.

Addressing the UNF Puttalam District convention on Monday (01) Wickremasinghe asked the President to reduce the colossal cabinet of 112 ministers to 35 within a week to prove his mettle.

"What was the obstruction that militated against the President to wait so long to think of reducing the number of Ministers?" the opposition leader asked.

"Even at this belated stage e has not practically done it, but only thinks about it making unbelievable promises," Wickremasinghe added.

President Rajapaksa has promised to reduce the number of ministers to 35 in the cabinet after the parliamentary election in April. Sri Lanka's current government has 51 cabinet ministers, 39 non cabinet ministers and 19 deputy ministers.

The Opposition leader said that the former President R. Premadasa set an example by reducing the Cabinet of Ministers before the Elections. Why this President cannot do it, he asked.

Wickremasinghe complained that the Ministers are enjoying all the luxuries and perks while the common people are not having the basic necessities to eke out a living.

It is the President's duty to show his gratitude to the people who bore all the sufferings during the war when the government went on imposing hardships and burdens blaming on the war, Wickremasinghe noted.

"Now, after the war has ended, the best way he can discharge this duty is by curtailing the number of Ministers in the massive Cabinet, and diverting the savings in millions by that curtailment towards alleviating people's burdens," the opposition leader pointed out.

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