Former Finance Minister Ronnie De Mel, a pillar of Sri Lankan political history, has breathed his last at the age of 98.

Born on April 11, 1925, De Mel’s journey traversed through the corridors of civil service to the pinnacle of political power, shaping the economic and political landscape of the nation for decades.

He received his primary education from St. Thomas College, Colombo and obtained his Master’s degree from the University of Ceylon.

Coming from humble beginnings, De Mel commenced his illustrious career in 1948, midst the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s newfound independence.

He served diligently in various governmental capacities, including Industries Department, Vavuniya District Secretariat, Puttalam District Secretariat and Social Services Department.

However, it was in 1964 that De Mel made his foray into the realm of politics.

Aligning himself initially with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, he navigated the intricate webs of political maneuvering, earning a seat in Parliament in the 1970 general election from Devinuwara.

Not one to be confined by party lines, De Mel exhibited a propensity for pragmatic politics, evidenced by his successful transition to the United National Party for the 1977 general election.

It was during his tenure as Finance Minister from 1977 to 1988, under President J.R. Jayawardene’s administration, that De Mel left an indelible mark on Sri Lanka’s economic landscape.

During this transformative era, marked by the adoption of free-market economic policies and the initiation of ambitious development projects such as Mahaweliya, De Mel played a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s economic trajectory.

Despite the challenges and controversies that accompanied his tenure, his steadfast leadership and unwavering commitment to progress endeared him to many.

Beyond his ministerial duties, De Mel remained a stalwart presence in Sri Lankan politics, offering sage counsel and guidance during times of turmoil.

His enduring influence was reflected in his continued re-election to Parliament in subsequent elections, a testament to his enduring legacy.

As Sri Lanka mourns the loss of one of its political titans, the memory of Ronnie De Mel will endure, etched into the fabric of the nation’s history.

His contributions to the economic development and political evolution of Sri Lanka will be remembered and revered for generations to come.



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