Inaugural director of UNU-WIDER
Lal Jayawardena, prominent Sri Lankan economist, former diplomat, and the inaugural director of UNU-WIDER during March 1985 - February 1993, passed away on 8 April 2004 in Colombo after a brief illness. He was 69.
Dr Jayawardena held several key positions in Sri Lanka and abroad, including that of Economic Adviser to the Sri Lankan president, Deputy Chairman of the Sri Lankan National Development Council, Treasury Secretary, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the Benelux countries (1978-82), Director of UNU-WIDER (1985-93), and Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland (1999-2000). As Treasury Secretary, Dr Jayawardena was influential in crafting and implementing the reform package that opened up Sri Lanka's economy in the mid-1970s. Between 1985 and 1993, as Director of UNU-WIDER, he founded the WIDER Studies in Development Economics series and chaired a study group on Indo-Sri Lanka Economic Cooperation, the final report of which formed the basis of the Indo-Sri Lanka Bilateral Free Trade Agreement signed by the two countries in 1998. Lal Jayawardena is fondly remembered by his friends and colleagues for his passion for classical music and opera, as well as his generous hospitality.