Sri Lanka appoints nine new cabinet members

Ranil Wickremesinghe, newly appointed prime minister, arrives at a Buddhist temple after his swearing-in ceremony amid the country's economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 12, 2022. [Reuters]

Sri Lanka appointed nine new cabinet members on Friday, among them ministers for the critical portfolios of health, trade and tourism, as the island nation battles its worst economic crisis in history.

"Nine cabinet ministers of the new all-party government took their oaths before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa," a presidential news statement said.

Veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe took over as prime minister this month to form a new cabinet after the president's elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, resigned from the job.

Tourism-dependent Sri Lanka is facing a dire shortage of foreign exchange, fuel and medicines, and economic activity has slowed to a crawl.

The PM has warned of a food shortage as the island nation battles a devastating economic crisis and vowed the government will buy enough fertiliser for the next planting season to boost harvests.

A decision in April last year by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to ban all chemical fertilisers drastically cut crop yields and although the government has reversed the ban, no substantial imports have yet taken place.

 Sri Lanka's parliament on Tuesday voted against fast-tracking an opposition move to condemn President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as the prime minister warned that the country was in a precarious economic situation and down to its last day of petrol supplies.

Lawmakers voted 119 to 68 against fast-tracking the largely symbolic motion through parliament, which reconvened for the first time since violence flared last week and the prime minister quit. It is likely to be debated later in the week.