Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and Leader of the UNP
Ranil Wickremesinghe is the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and the Leader of the United National Party as well as being an elected Member of Parliament since 1977.
He is passionate about building a stronger export-orientated economy to ensure that Sri Lanka is the best place to work, live and start a business.
Born in 1949 after Sri Lanka gained independence from the British, Ranil, wanted to play a crucial role in the new independent era. He is the second son of Esmond and Nalini Wickremesinghe, both passionate advocates for Sri Lanka’s growth, and has three brothers and one sister.
Ranil received his primary and secondary education at Royal College, Colombo. He graduated from the University of Colombo with a Degree in Law, enrolling as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 1972, and then, practised as a lawyer for five years.
A lawyer by profession, he was elected to Parliament for the Biyagama District in 1977 at the age of 28. He rose quickly in recognition of his exceptional talents and unique capacity for work, he was appointed to the Cabinet as the Minister of Youth Affairs and Employment and then Education Minister by President JR Jayewardene.
He is still considered by experts to be the best Education Minister in modern times due to the radical educational reforms he initiated in the 1980s aimed at the improvement of school education focused on English, Technology and Computer skills as well as the Education Administrative Service.
He energised the young people in Sri Lanka with creative, motivational as well as skill development programs through youth clubs (Yovun Samajas) and youth camps (Yovunpuras).
As the Minister of Industries, Science and Technology, he was responsible for Sri Lanka’s second round of economic liberalisation that commenced in 1989 with the focus on financial freedom and industrial development in rural areas through industrial estates.
As the MP for Biyagama, he dramatically developed his electorate to become a modern model suburb with brand new roads, electrification schemes, water and sanitation projects, schools, community centres and other infrastructure inputs. He also was instrumental in the establishment of the Biyagama Free Trade Zone which provides employment for thousands of young men and women in a range of industries.
Outside of Politics
In 1995 he married Maithree Wickramasinghe, a Professor at the Department of English, and the founding director of the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Kelaniya and an internationally known writer and speaker on gender and women’s studies.
- Vice Chair of the International Democratic Union
- Chair of the Asia Pacific Democrat Union
- Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow at the Centre for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA
- Chair of the Dhayakasabha
- Dhayakaya of Gangaramaya, Walukaramaya and the Weragodalla (Sedawatte) temples