Ranil Wickremasinghe

From TobaccoUnmasked

Background

Ranil Wickremesinghe, born on 24th March 1949, was active in Sri Lankan politics for the past five decades. He is a member of the Sri Lankan Parliament since 1977 elected initially from Gampaha and then from Colombo District. He was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in four occasions- (May 1993 - August 1994; December 2001 - April 2004; January 2015 - October 2018; and December 2018 - November 2019).[1][2][3][4][5]

Ranil Wickremesinghe is the second son of Esmond Wickremesinghe and Nalini Wickremesinghe and the nephew of J. R. Jayewardene, the first Executive President of Sri Lanka.[6][7]Educated at Royal College, Colombo, Wickremesinghe graduated from the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo. During his undergraduate years, he was involved in student politics, becoming the President of the Law Students Union and the Vice President of the University Students Council. In 1972, he was enrolled as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. In 2017, he received an honorary doctorate from Deakin University, Australia. His profession is mentioned as an Attorney-at-Law in public databases.[2][3][8]

Wickremesinghe served four terms as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and two terms as the Leader of the Opposition of the Sri Lankan Parliament between 1993 and 2019.[1]Since November 1994, he is the leader of the United National Party (UNP), one of the two prominent political parties in Sri Lanka and the ruling political party from 2015 to 2019. He was the youngest cabinet minister of Sri Lanka, when he became the Minister of Youth Affairs and Employment at the age of 29. Wickremasinghe is married to Maithree Wickramasinghe, a Professor at the Department of English, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.[2][3][8]

Image 1: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.[9]

Political / Government Position Held

  • Member of the Parliament - July 1977 to Present[1][3][8]
  • Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs - October 1977 to September 1978[3][8]
  • Cabinet Minister of Youth Affairs and Employment - September 1978 to February 1980[3][8]
  • Cabinet Minister of Education - February 1980 to 1989[3][8]
  • Cabinet Minister of Industries, Science & Technology - March 1989 to May 1993[3][8]
  • Cabinet Minister of Policy Planning - December 2001 to April 2004[10]
  • Cabinet Minister of Policy Planning, Economics Affairs, Child, Youth and Cultural Affairs - January 2015 to August 2015[11]
  • Cabinet Minister of National Policies and Economic Development - September 2015 to October 2018[12][13]
  • Minister of Law and Order - February 2018 to March 2018[14]
  • Cabinet Minister of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development, Vocational Training and Skills Development and Youth Affairs - December 2018 to March 2019[15]
  • Cabinet Minister of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development and Youth Affairs - March 2019 to November 2019[16]
  • Leader of the House - March 1989 to May 1993[3][17]
  • Leader of the United National Party - 1994 to Present[3][8]
  • Leader of the Opposition - October 1994 to October 2001; and April 2004 to January 2015[3][8][18]
  • Prime Minister of Sri Lanka - May 1993 to August 1994; December 2001 to April 2004; January 2015 to October 2018; and December 2018 to November 2019[3][8][5]

Tobacco Related Activities

Appointing Directors of the Ceylon Tobacco to Government Positions

During his period as the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe appointed Dinesh Weerakkody, a Non- executive Director of Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC), to the following positions listed below in government or affiliated institutions. Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) is the British American Tobacco (BAT) subsidiary that holds the monopoly in cigarette manufacturing and trade in Sri Lanka.

  • Advisor/Committee Chair, Ministry of National Policy and Economic Affairs (February 2015 to December 2019)[19][20][8]
  • Chairman, National Human Resource Development Council of Sri Lanka (February 2015 to December 2019)[19][8]
  • Governing Board of Dr. Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital (NFTH) (July 2017). NFTH is the private hospital attached to a private medical school that led to many controversies including an eleven-month long class strike of students of the state medical faculties. It was taken over by the Government of Sri Lanka as a response to the objections from the medical undergraduate and professional organisations. When this appointment of Dinesh Weerakkody was objected to, the Minister of Health justified it saying that he was appointed in the capacity of the advisor to the Prime Minister. (Please visit the page Ceylon Tobacco Director Appointed to NFTH Governing Board for more details). In 2002, Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe appointed Dinesh Weerakkody as his Advisor Prior to Weerakkody’s employment in the CTC.[21][19][20][22]

Please refer to the page Dinesh Weerakkody for more details.

Letter from Prime Minister’s Office to Promote Tobacco Cultivation

On 16th August 2017, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe reportedly had a discussion with the All Ceylon Cigarette Tobacco Barn Owners' Association regarding the issues of tobacco farming that had arisen with the proposed ban on tobacco cultivation. As a result, a letter was sent from Prime Minister’s office to authorised government officials at regional and grassroot levels, requesting them not to oppose the tobacco cultivation (Image 2).

Image 2: Letter from Prime Minister’s office [23]

FCTC Article 5.3 recommends not to negotiate tobacco control activities with the tobacco industry.

Interfering in Tobacco Taxation

In the state media briefing held on 01st November 2017, then Minister of Health and the Media Spokesperson for the Cabinet of Ministers, Rajitha Senaratne revealed that BAT officials met high ranked government officials including the Prime Minister. He accused BAT officials of meeting Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, to interfere in the proposed cigarette tax increase, which eventually got imposed making tax proportion of cigarette price 90% in 2016. Minister Senaratne further revealed that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, during a cabinet meeting, pressurized him to be more industry friendly nice to the business community. Please refer to our page British American Tobacco Influencing Cigarette Tax in Sri Lanka for more details.

Tobacco Unmasked Resources

Other relevant TobaccoUnmasked pages:

The local language translations

TobaccoUnmasked_Sinhala
TobaccoUnmasked_Tamil



Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Directory of Past Members, 2020, accessed July 2020
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Manthri.lk. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Undated, accessed July 2020
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 Ranil Wickremesinghe. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Facebook, 2020, accessed July 2020
  4. Ranil Wickremesinghe. LinkedIn Profile, LinkedIn, 2020, accessed July 2020
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Prime Ministers, 2020, accessed July 2020
  6. D.B.S. Jeyaraj. The Difference between Uncle” Junius Richard Jayewardene and “Nephew” Ranil Wickremesinghe, dbsjeyaraj.com, 13 April 2016, accessed July 2020
  7. The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Heads of State, 2020, accessed July 2020
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 Dinesh Weerakkody. LinkedIn Profile, LinkedIn, 2020, accessed July 2020
  9. The morning.lk Website. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe resigns, 20 November 2019, accessed July 2020
  10. Daily News. New Ministers, 13 December 2001, accessed July 2020
  11. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka PART I: SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President, 18 January 2015, accessed July 2020
  12. Daily mirror. New Cabinet, 04 September 2015, accessed July 2020
  13. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka PART I: SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President, 26 October 2018, accessed July 2020
  14. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka PART I: SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President, 14 March 2018, accessed July 2020
  15. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka PART I: SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President, 20 December 2018, accessed July 2020
  16. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka PART I: SECTION (I) — GENERAL Appointments & c., by the President, 18 March 2019, accessed July 2020
  17. The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Leaders of the House, 2020, accessed July 2020
  18. The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Leaders of the Opposition, 2020, accessed July 2020
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC. Annual Report 2014, 2015, accessed July 2020
  20. 20.0 20.1 Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC. Annual Report 2016, 2017, accessed July 2020
  21. Dinesh Weerakkody. LinkedIn Profile, LinkedIn, 2020, accessed July 2020
  22. The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Prime Ministers, 2020, accessed July 2020
  23. PASC Lakmal, Discussion on issues related to tobacco farming, 17th August 2017, accessed March 2019