Sri Lanka’s newly-appointed Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs on Thursday requested those who had been expressing disappointment over him receiving a Ministerial portfolio not connected to handling domestic economic affairs, to not be upset, as there is a strong reasoning behind this appointment. Though acknowledging that the new portfolio “was unexpected”, Dr. De Silva however said that he is “pleasantly surprised” to take on the new challenge and vowed that he wanted to make waves in economic diplomacy.
“I see a huge role to build Sri Lanka’s economic diplomacy, which is what we were lacking where the whole world is moving towards economic diplomacy. It’s no longer about politics, trade, investment and tourism etc so I see a very important role.
Looking at the feedback from the newspapers and the social media in particular, Sri Lankans seem to be upset that I haven’t been given a role to play in domestic affairs. But my message to them is ‘don’t be upset’,” Dr. De Silva, who previously functioned as the Deputy Minister of Policy Planning, Economic Affairs, said.
He pointed out that he will take on this new challenge with deep vigor as it has been a long felt need for Sri Lanka to bring in Economic Affairs as a crucial segment in the role played by the Foreign Ministry.
“As the Foreign Minister also recently said, we need to re-focus our foreign policy towards an economic focus. And with my understanding of the subject, decades of experience, I am really looking forward to the opportunity. I have worked as the Consultant Economist to the World Bank, ADB, UNDP and I’ve taught in the US, Singapore and India, and I think I will certainly be able to complement Minister Mangala’s excellent skills as a diplomat,” Dr. de Silva said. Commending the role played by the Foreign Minister during his stint in the interim government, Dr. De Silva noted that Minister Samaraweera has already done wonders in the last six months by turning the global point of view from a negative to a positive one.
“I plan to complement him. And with him in the next couple of years we will make waves in economic diplomacy,” De Silva emphasized.