2nd Lead (Adds details)

Taxes on Tsunami Aid not channeled through Sri Lanka Government

[TamilNet, Saturday, 05 March 2005, 12:11 GMT]
In new measures announced by the Government of Sri Lanka, relief agencies, including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), have to channel all relief items, including medicines, through respective Government Ministeries to avoid items being taxed by the Sri Lanka customs, Daily News reported under the headline "Speedy clearance for relief, reconstruction goods."

Officials associated with Tamil relief organizations said that the regulations are clearly intended to divert large amount of relief supplies arriving for NGOs working in the NorthEast to be diverted by the Government officials to other areas of Sri Lanka.

Excerpts from the guidelines announced as "duty concessions" that will be valid till April 26, 2005, by Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera follow:

"Medicines and Medical Supplies and Medical and Surgical Equipment which comply with regulatory requirements would be cleared free of duty provided they are consigned to the Director General/Health Services. Alternatively donors may be allowed to hand over these items to any Govt. Hospitals or Medical Camps with the approval of the relevant health authority.

"New garments and textiles would be cleared free of duty provided they are handed over to the Director/Social Services for use by the tsunami victims.

"Tents - provided tents are suitable for local conditions, could be cleared free of duty. Such consignments should be handed over to the Director/Social Services or to the Ministry of Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation or Commissioner General Essential Services.

"School supplies, pencils, paper and shoes for school children would be cleared free of duty provided consignments are handed over to the Director/Social Services for distribution among schoolchildren in affected areas under their supervision.

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