Unable to occupy former homes
Displaced persons now returning back to their homes in the north making use of the existing cease-fire agreement are faced with a problem in occupying their original homes as they do not have sufficient evidence to prove ownership of their houses.

Most of them are from Colombo, Negombo and Puttalam.

The Divisional Secretariat has advised the people to either produce documentary proof of ownership of the houses, or obtain necessary letters from the respective Grama Sevakas confirming their previous occupancy.

However in some cases the Grama Sevakas have not been able to confirm the issue of ownership.

Prevent smuggling

The Hindu Cultural Affairs Ministry has appointed an advisory committee to advise the authorities regarding measures to be taken for the prevention of smuggling of valuable archaeological items from the Jaffna peninsula to the south of the country.

This Decision was taken after the Ministry received complaints that treasure hunters were smuggling religious and cultural items from the north to the south .

Recently they had detected that some of those involved in the business had stolen these artefacts including statues and selling them cheaply to gangs coming from the south.

Once these find their way to Colombo they are smuggled out of the country.

Bitter pill for patients
Prices of pharmaceuticals are expected to go up soon with introduction of Customs duty, surcharges and Port Authority Levy (PAL) imposed by the government on imported items, President of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Associations Upali Panditharathne told The Sunday Times.

He claimed that prices of pharmaceuticals will go up after all pharmaceutical companies deciding to reduce the prices of drugs by 6.5 percent.

Mr. Panditharathne said the prices of pharmaceuticals will go up proportionately with Customs duty of two percent, surcharge of 20 percent and PAL of one percent. However, he said that any price increase would not exceed five percent.

Unless the government acts immediately to remove the tax system the prices of pharmaceuticals would be increased once the old stocks are over, he said.

The chairman of Harcourts Private Limited, Ahamed Rheyas, one of the largest importers of pharmaceuticals to Sri Lanka, said it was shocking to note that duties had been imposed on pharmaceuticals which would again result in pharmaceutical companies having to increase their prices to recover the additional cost incurred by them, which adds up to 4.7 percent.

"As it is patients are complaining of the high cost of drugs. How will they accept another price increase? The authorities concerned have to see that pharmaceuticals are completely exempt from duty, as it is a vital commodity in any country" he said.

Meetings to fund Tigers
An LTTE fund raising movement titled International Movement for Tamil Culture based in Canada is to hold a series of meetings next year in the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and Norway with the possible participation of Government ministers.

The function which was to be held on October 12 was postponed as it clashed with the Navaharai celebration .

The movement has invited Community Development Minister P. Chandrasekeran as a guest speaker. Although the earlier meeting was to be held in the UK it was decided that separate meetings be held as well in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Norway.

Hi tech process to catch passport crooks
With full computerisation the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DIE) will be able to identify black listed people at the airport itself, an official said.

Assistant controller Kithsiri said it had taken seven long years stage by stage for the passport office to move into top speed and efficiency in hi-technology methods.

He said the main passport office in Bambalapitiya would be directly linked by computer to the airport and ports enabling immediate detection of black listed people or those who were over staying their visas.

Asked why the project took so long the official said the shifting of the head office from Fort to Bambalapitiya and other factors had delayed the process but now they were ready to move into top gear.

Keep child workers out
By Chandani Kirinde
Any firm or person who employs a child could be jailed for up to 12 months and fined Rs. 10,000, in terms of a bill presented by the Labour Minister in parliament on Friday.

The offenders will also have to pay compensation to the child.

In terms of this law the custodian of the child will be responsible for furnishing information regarding the employment of a child and the custodian would be committing an offence if false information is given.

The bill also provides for the total prohibition of the training of children under 16 years in performances of a dangerous nature.

It extends the age limit of a child to whom the protection is afforded to 18 years.

The bill makes provision for an authorized officer to enter and search a building or place and for a medical officer who examines a child or young person to issue a certificate which will be acceptable as evidence.

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