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Thursday, 17 March 2011

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Questions and Answers 

Non implementation of recommendations of Ombudsman and Human Rights

Question: I was a victim of discrimination by my employer, a statutory body. When I complained to the Ombudsman he made certain recommendations. They were not implemented. Subsequently I complained to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. They too make certain recommendations. They were not implemented either. When the perpetrators act with impunity despite recommendations for redress by law enforcing authorities where can the poor common man turn for justice. Please advice. Victim of discrimination, email

Answer: You can go back to the Ombudsman and inform him that his recommendations have not been implemented by your employer who is a statutory body. The Ombudsman will check with your employer as to why the recommendations have not been implemented. Similarly you can write to the HRC giving all references that their recommendation too has not been implemented, although there is no provision for an appeal. They will check with your employer regarding the non-implementation and even write to the President that the recommendations has not been implemented. As a last resort you can file a fundamental rights case siting the HRC recommendations.


Non allocation of land by LRC

Question: Under L R C Act in 1972 the lands which belonged to my father late Ashley Dullewa was acquired by the Land Reform Commission.

At the time of take over I too was eligible for 50 acres of land, where Lanka Reform Commission agreed in principle. Out of my 50 acres entitlement I was allocated partly alternate land from Marwarakanda Estate which was handed over to me with the deeds. For the balance 15 acres and nine perches. I have been requested to select a land from Kandy, Nawalapitiya, Nuwara Eliya or Matale.

As per the instructions given by LRC Head Office, Director LRC Matale showed me a 15 acres from an estate in Matale District which is suitable, where I have made a written request to the effect that I am happy to take the proposed land. Accordingly, Director Malale has informed the head office in writing (LRC) 15 acres and nine roods could be released from Matale District.

I have taken up my problem with the Chairman and Directors at LRC head office on numerous occasions, on their public date and requested to release the land which is a long over due entitlement. Up to the time of writing no action has been taken to release the land. It is sad to place on record this has taken four decades.

Please assist me to solve this long standing problem for which I will be most grateful.

Manjula Ioma Dawlagala-email

Answer: We contacted the Land Reform Commission and was connected to the Director Land Ceiling. She happened to remember your case and stated that you have gone and met them. When inquired about the status of your case, she stated that papers have been put up to the Chairman.

When pressed for more details, she was not helpful but requested us to contact the Executive Director. The Executive Director was not available in office when we tried to contact him. However with the help of someone in that office we found out that no paper has been put up yet to the Chairman and that she will ensure that a paper is put up soon.

We suggest that you telephone the Executive Director on 011-2694251 on mobile 0777311701 and follow up your matter. We too will follow up. If we wait to answer your question after getting a result there could be a long delay and you may be waiting for our response.


Non payment of gratuity

Question: A few months after retiring from Government service at the age of 60, I got permanent employment in a private sector establishment where I worked for eight years continuously. I was a contributor to the EPF. On completion of four years service at this establishment, I withdrew the amount lying to my credit at the EPF for an urgent need but continued to work in the same establishment without a break. At the end of eight years continuous service I resigned the post on my own, but the company did not pay my gratuity saying that I was not entitled to the gratuity.

Am I not entitled to the gratuity merely because I drew my EPF halfway through at the end of four years. I seek your valuable advice.

W M Fernando, Boralesgamuwa

Answer: The information provided by you is inadequate for us to definitely state that you are entitled to the gratuity payment. If you have served more than five years and if there are 15 or more employees in your work place you are entitled to the gratuity payment of half month salary for every year of service. The fact that you are a retired Government servant does not affect your right to this gratuity payment.

You have not stated how many employees are there in your place of employment but if more than 15, your are entitled to it.

You have also not stated whether there was any contribution to the EPF after the fourth year where you had withdrawn your EPF. This may amount to your having vacated your position of permanent employment. It is best that you consult the Labour Office in the area of your employment along with all the missing details as pointed out by us especially your terms of employment after the fourth year. However the Labour office will assist you for some form of compensation in case you are not entitled to gratuity, immaterial of five complete years of service and minimum 15 employees.


Vehicle duty structure

Question: Please let me know what is the new duty structure for the vehicles imported.

A Subramaniam, e-mail

Answer: Yours is a simple question but it requires a very elaborate answer which we are not able to provide in this page. However we will provide you with the commonly required duty structure of motor cars only. When you say vehicles it wouldn’t only include motor cars but motor cycles, lorries, jeeps, buses, tractors and of late hybrid vehicles as well. The hybrid vehicles attract a very low duty. If you want the full duty structure we suggest you visit the web page www.customs.gov.lk. You have to first go to RPO Final Gazette and write down the vehicle category and the relevant HS code, then go to the Custom Tariff Guide page and note down the duty structure.

The duty comprises of import duty plus PAL, VAT, NBT and Excise Duty. Given below are the all inclusive duty for motor cars:

Petrol cars below 1000 cc – 96 percent.

Petrol cars 1000 cc – 1600 cc – 120 percent.

Petrol cars 1600 cc – 2000 cc – 138 percent.

Diesel cars below 1600 cc – 182 percent.

Diesel cars 1600 cc – 2500 cc – 253 percent.


Duty-free imports for foreign currency earners

Question: Other than those worked in foreign countries, exporters and those who receive remittances from abroad, are there any categories of people entitled for car permits? Can those who have foreign currency account import or get as gifts, home appliance, office equipment or industrial equipment, vehicles, spares etc duty-free?

Can those who worked abroad get car permit after living several years in Sri Lanka after the return? Please give address, Tel. No and email of office to contact them regarding car permit. In the statements for foreign currency account why don’t the bank mention the total amount remitted so far into that account taking into consideration the old account number too if the bank has changed the account number?

If the total remittance is recorded in the computer when an account holder asks for it the bank staff do not have to spend time in going through old records to find it out.

S Sripadmanaban, Narahenpita

Answer: Although we see people regularly writing to the newspapers that person earning foreign exchange to the country should be allowed duty free vehicles, there has been no consideration to this by the Government. Even those professionals who chose to remain in the country but opted to work in the non-Government sector have not been granted such privilege. Only Government servants of certain categories and professionals serving the Government have been give duty-free or low duty vehicles. It is mainly the politicians at all levels who have benefited from such duty-free vehicles. However, there was a scheme where persons still working overseas and who have remitted more that Rs 2.4 million were allowed to gift a duty-free vehicle to a family member but this has been stopped from December 31, 2010. We understand that this scheme may be reintroduced.


Concern over health hazard

Question: This is to seek advice regarding the fact that I own a property in Kirulapone with my own brother and there is a house on the middle of the land and front section of the house belongs to me and back section belongs to my brother (sub-divided). For some time my brother and his family live in that house and there is a septic tank (ST) that is located towards my brother’s section of the land. The ST started overflowing for some time. Even though they enjoy the whole property and the house they are not interested in renovating or cleaning the same (ST). I’m a disabled and unemployed not in a position to attend to it.

Because of dengue epidemic I’m concerned in case a health inspector come around they might take legal action on the above issue. My brother is employed abroad and since I own the front section of the land. Please advice me on the following: A) Since this land owned by 2 parties in case a health inspector charges for the above situation what will be my situation? B) How I’m to avoid the above risk? C) Since my brother is abroad am I liable for the situation? Looking forward for an early response. Thanking you.

Jaya, Colombo, e-mail

Answer: Good to find persons like you who are concerned about the health hazards and the environment. This is despite the fact that you are disabled or differently able your effort is commendable. Answer to your first question is yes, you too will be charged if an health inspector is informed by your neighbours of this situation. In fact you may be the only party to be charged since you are occupying the front section and you are the only person at home.

In response to your second question, there is definitely a way out, we suggest you telephone the CMC (Colombo Municipal Council) Depot in Kirulapone in charge of this. The tel No is 0112514845. They will attend to it free of charge, although the workmen will expect a santhosam. If we had your address we could have arranged for it. Our response to your third question is again yes, as your brother is abroad you will be liable.

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