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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Oxfam charged million dollar duty on tsunami relief vehicles

ReliefWeb: LONDON, June 17 (AFP) - British charity Oxfam had to pay 550,000 pounds (830,000 euros, one million dollars) in customs duty for importing vehicles to Sri Lanka to help tsunami victims, a report said Friday.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper said the Sri Lankan customs refused to give tax exemptions to non-governmental organisations helping in the aftermath of the December 26 2004 tsunami which killed at least 31,000 people in the country.

The 25 four-wheel drive Indian-made Mahindra vehicles were stuck for a month in Colombo as officials completed the paperwork with Oxfam paying customs 2,750 pounds per day "demurrage", the newspaper said.

Oxfam faced three choices: pay the 300 percent import tax, hand over the vehicles or re-export them, sources told the paper.

The charity said it felt it had "no choice" but to pay the charges rather than hold up its relief efforts further.

Up to a million people were initially left homeless after the tsunami.

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