Lanka customs slaps $1m duty on Oxfam relief vehicles

[TamilNet, Friday, 17 June 2005, 17:19 GMT]
British charity Oxfam had to pay Sri Lanka customs US$1 million as tax to clear 25 four-wheel drive vehicles imported for tsunami duty, a BBC report said.

Oxfam told BBC news that Indian-made Mahindra vehicles were essential in ensuring access to the poorest communities over rough terrain and bad roads.

Meanwhile, British daily Telegraph reported quoting sources that when Oxfam officials tried to reason with the government, the ministry of finance offered three options: pay the duty, re-export the vehicles or hand them over to a ministry of their choice.

There were several reports in the wake of tsunami disaster of Sri Lanka customs aided by Sri Lanka Government employing procedural barriers to clear containers of relief supplies destined for tsunami affected in the NorthEast.

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