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US gets tax exemption from LTTE
Hardly ten days after the US re-classified the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, Tamil guerrillas yesterday waived off tax for the USAID to send in humanitarian assistance to the northern Jaffna peninsula.

This followed indirect intervention with the LTTE through Jaffna's Government Agent S. Pathmanathan, The Sunday Times learns. The LTTE gave a tax exemption yesterday for the USAID to transport educational goods and fishing equipment to Karainagar after several months of 'indirect talks'.

Although the LTTE does not levy tax on humanitarian assistance, the USAID was facing difficulties as the US had banned the LTTE and could not directly speak to it unlike other foreign organisations and NGOs which seek LTTE permission to transport goods to the north.

A group of USAID officers who were earlier in the peninsula studying the ground situation refrained from directly contacting the LTTE as there was a possibility of paying huge tax at the Omanthai checkpoint.

The equipment sent yesteday was valued at around Rs 1.6 million and included fishing nets and education material to 20 schools in the area. Building of a science lab, and reconstruction of schools which had been damaged due to the war were part of the assistance programme.

For the first time a USAID convoy transported the equipment along the A 9 road.

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