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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 13:08 GMT
Jumbo cabinet pushed for space
Sri Lankan parliament
There is nowhere big enough for the cabinet to meet
The 53-member Sri Lankan cabinet is reported to have postponed its first meeting because there is nowhere big or secure enough for so many dignitaries.

The official reason for the postponement was "logistical difficulties".

But press reports almost unanimously conclude that the real reason is because there is no room big enough for the country's super-sized cabinet.

The cabinet is proportionately one of the largest in the world.

'Costly'

"The first meeting of the cabinet scheduled for today has been postponed indefinitely due to the non-availability of a place to accommodate the jumbo cabinet," the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror said.

Mahinda Rajapakse
President Rajapakse has one of the largest cabinets in the world

The delay came as a party of Buddhist monks, the National Sinhala Heritage Party, announced they were also joining the government, a move that would further increase the size of the cabinet.

President Mahinda Rajapakse swore in what correspondents say is the largest cabinet in Sri Lanka's history on Sunday, appointing 33 ministers with non-cabinet rank and 19 deputy ministers.

The Heritage Party said it had decided to nominate a layman to become a cabinet minister, which would increase the cabinet to 54 members.

Agriculture Minister Maithripala Sirisena was quoted in the local media as saying that such a large cabinet team would be costly to the government.

"There is no way that one can reject the fact that such a large number of ministers would be a burden on the economy," he said.

The Sri Lankan cabinet of 53 members for a population of 19.5m people compares with around 23 members in the UK cabinet for a population of 60m people and around 21 people in George Bush's cabinet.

The government's former ally, the Marxist JVP, or the People's Liberation Front, has criticised the "huge cabinet" which it says is far too large.

It said that the jumbo cabinet had made Sri Lanka the laughing stock of the world.




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