Monday, June 20, 2005

Stupid, Stubborn & Shameless - Sri Lanka Government

Bureaucracy at its most obdurately stupid.

Oxfam has to bring into Sri Lanka twenty five Indian 4WD vehicles for its reconstruction projects as part of its tsunami-aid assistance. The Indian vehicles have been necessary because Sri Lanka doesn't have locally produced 4WD vehicles.

Believe it or not, the Sri Lankan government insisted on slapping a US$1 million tax on the vehicles, yes, vehicles that are meant for reconstruction projects to help Sri Lankan victims of the tsunami.

When Oxfam appealed against the tax, the Sri Lankan government gave Oxfam 3 choicespay up the taxes, get the vehicles out of Sri Lankan, or hand the vehicles over to a Sri Lankan Ministry.

Its excuse for its gross stupidity?

Aid had been duty-free (really? Amazing!) until the end of April but was now needed to prevent 'market distortions'. But what about the “distortion” of your people’s lives, those victims of the tsunami, while you forced Oxfam to wait for the bureaucratic processing of the importation?

Paperwork alone kept the vehicles lying idle in Colombo for a month, where a US$5,000 per day charge was levied by Sri Lankan Custom (how dandy!).

That’s already US$1,150,000 short for the Sri Lankan victims, not counting time and other expenses wasted while Sri Lankans suffered, thanks to the utter idiocy of the bureaucratic Sri Lankan government.

But Oxfam soldiers on in spite of such stupid bureaucratic obstacles, to help the needy. Oxfam's example is an object lesson for those who, angry with the Schapelle Corby's conviction, had demanded Australian aid organisations not send aid money to Indonesia. If one wants to donate to charity, and help the needy, one shouldn't use one's dislike of a foreign system to punish the needy of that country. Look at the bigger picture and not be weighted down by unrelated prejudice.

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