UNTAET Daily Briefing 20 Mar 2000

Dili, 20 March 2000
Tax collection starts in East Timor for the first time in its history

The collection of duties and excises introduced in East Timor by Regulation 2000/12 starts today. All importers who have unloaded goods at the Dili port and airport this morning were issued with a notice of liability for payment from the Border Control Service.

The notice states that importers have to come back within five days with the declaration of importation in which they will calculate the value of the goods they imported. The amount of duty payable will be checked by East Timor Customs and approved or corrected. The importers will than have to pay the amount and return with a proof of payment before claiming their goods.

The collection did not start on 8 March, when the Regulation 2000/12 came into force, in order to give importers and exporters time to familiarize with the regulation and the fact that the tax was introduced. A separate Directive by Transitional Administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello, determines that duties are to be for the goods imported into and exported from East Timor collected from today onwards.

The regulation focuses on generating revenue from business activities and taxing products marketed to those with higher buying power. It covers imports, exports and the domestically produced goods except for the goods that were on their way to East Timor prior to 8 March 2000.

According to the regulation, importers will be paying import duty of five per cent of the customs value of the goods (which is calculated by adding up the cost of goods, insurance and freight).

Several categories of goods will be exempted from import duties. These include humanitarian relief goods, goods imported by the UN and other international organizations to be used or distributed for the benefit of public, baby formulas, sanitary napkins and several other categories.

Excise duties have been introduced on goods produced domestically for usage in East Timor that include soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, fuel, some electronic goods and cars.

Former Indonesian soldiers meet Falintil leaders

Six former TNI soldiers went to Aileu ( South of Dili) this weekend and met with Falintil, National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), UNTAET, CivPol and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to discuss the possible return of a group of 59 former TNI and their families to East Timor.

In the meeting, Falintil and CNRT representatives told them that the group was welcome back in Aileu as long as they would come back as East Timorese willing to help in the reconstruction of the nation, and not as soldiers.

Also, Falintil and CNRT asked the group to come back in stages, and not all at the same time.

The 59 former TNI members are expected to return, soon, together with a total of 480 people, mainly wives and children, but also extended family currently staying in refugee camps in Kupang.

This is the first time a group of former TNI is returning to Aileu.

Nuns victims of a massacre exhumed in LosPalos

The exhumation of the second group of the victims of the LosPalos massacre concluded last Saturday.

The bodies exhumed were of the two nuns from the Canosians Convent , a priest and a East Timorese woman. Sisters from the convent were present at the exhumation and a choir chanted catholic litanies during the work of the forensic experts. The four bodies were brought to the Human Rights Morgue in Dili where autopsies are expected to conclude by tomorrow.

Eight people in a convoy were killed during the massacre in September, 25. The autopsies of the other four bodies last week revealed that the victims were all shot by a similar weapon and had cuts done with the same type of knife.

Peacekeepers detained suspected militia on the border

The New Zealand battalion of the Peace Keeping Force in East Timor detained five suspected militia in Covalima district last Friday. They crossed the border by foot. Four of them are being detained on murder charges and the other one is suspected of being active militia.

Another twelve people were detained, on Friday, on the same border area, suspected of being militia. After questioning, they tried to reintegrate into their home village (Zumalai) but were badly received by the inhabitants of the village. Finally, on Sunday, eleven of them were successfully reintegrated.

The other one is being held by the civilian police (CIVPOL) on murder charges.

The detaining of these former militia members is a result of an information network established by the Peace Keeping Force and the close cooperation between Peacekeepers and the East Timorese people.

Peacekeeper Officer attacked in Dili

Last Saturday, at approximately 10:45 PM a Jordanian officer was attacked by two local men as he was walking from the hotel-boat in Dili to the Headquarters of the Peacekeeping Force to do night Duty.

He was without warning knocked to the ground, kicked and attempted stabbed with a knife. The two men who attacked him, ran from the scene when the officer reached for his pistol and fired two shots in the air. The officer sustained a minor flesh-wound in the left shoulder. He was treated at the military hospital and released.

Distribution of shelter material

Under the UNHCR programme, a barge carrying 1,500 houses kits is currently being unloaded in Suai for distribution in Covalima district by the NGO Timor Aid. The distribution of building materials continues in 10 of the 13 districts. To date, of the total number of 3,570 shelter kits were distributed, 681 beneficiaries have completed construction of their shelters.

Under the NGO Care shelter programme, 631 houses were rebuilt in Covalima district. This week, an additional 360 shelter kits are scheduled to arrive by road from Kupang, West Timor.

The NGO World Vision has begun its distribution of building materials last week The goal is to assist the East Timorese with the rehabilitation and reconstruction of some 9,000 shelters by the end of June.

The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) has completed the construction of around 1100 temporary shelters and will begin the second phase of its shelter programme in Bobonaro, Covalima and Ermera Districts in April.