ISLAMABAD: On the proposal moved by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs led by Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approved the KPT Board Resolution for extension in existing free period from 5 working days to 15 working days for cargo/containers landing with effect from 25-3-2020 till 30-4-2020. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the ECC of the Cabinet today.
Customs Today has taken up this issue from last few weeks and extensively reported about the miseries being faced by the importers and traders due to Coronavirus disaster and difficulties incurred in clearance of their imported cargo. Former Central Vice Chairman Pakistan Auto Spare Parts Importers and Dealers Association, Pakistan Awais Piracha, PALIMA (Pakistan Artificial Leather Importers & Merchants Association) chairman Faheem Ur Rehman Saighol, Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) General Secretary Muhammad Aamir, All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) President Arshad Jamal, All Pakistan Timber Traders Association (APTTA) Chairman Muhammad Sharjeel Goplani, Friends of Business & Economic Reforms President Kashif Anwar, Pakistan Chemicals & Dyes Merchants Association (PCDMA) chairman and FPCCI Vice President Khurram Aijaz, Customs Clearing Agents Mr. Sharjeel Jamal, Mr. Naeem and Mr. Zargham Shah also raised this issue at different forums and press conferences and played their role for the benefit of the national economy at large. Customs Today was the only newspaper that voiced concerns of traders and importers and covered their demands of 100% waiver in demurrage and detention charges and seeking of free extra time at ports, but terminal operator QICT and shipping lines Maersk Pakistan did not give any appropriate relief to them, even after the directives issued by the FBR, Customs Enforcement and Customs Appraisement Departments.
Traders, Importers and Customs Agents said FBR and Customs Department miserably failed to implement the existing laws regarding demurrage and detention charges as companies like Qasim International Containers Terminal (QICT) and Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd have become a ‘shipping mafia’, only working to take benefit of these difficult times and looting the nation on Covid-19 disaster. CEOs and high-ups of QICT and Maersk including Junaid Zamir, Aruna Hussain and the accused benaami owner Habibullah Khan are reportedly not listening to the directives of the FBR and Customs Department.
According to details, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) asked port authorities to waive demurrage and detention charges for 15 days but QICT and Maersk Pakistan did not adhere to it. Then Customs Enforcement South Karachi, Customs Appraisement and Facilitation (East) Karachi and MCC Jinnah International Airport Karachi wrote letters to these shipping lines and terminal operators to implement the directives of the FBR but these companies did not comply with the orders.
QICT controlled by DPWorld announced additional 5 storage free days in addition to normal free days as per tariff which would be applicable on cargoes arrived from 20th March 2020 till vessel arriving on 5th of April, 2020 and deliveries up to 15th April 2020, after that will be charged as per actual invoice. But traders and importers demand 100% waiver of demurrage and detention charges as entitled under the law and extension in free time till complete normalcy returns in one or two months. Because in current situation, due to different reasons it is difficult for them to clear their containers in the said period.
Collectorate of Customs Enforcement and Compliance, led by Chief Collector Wasif Ali Memon, directed shipping companies and shipping agents to extend waiver of delay and detention charges during lockdown to contain coronavirus but no one yet followed his directives. Collectorate of Customs Enforcement & Compliance also issued instructions to chairman All Pakistan Shipping Association and chairman Pakistan Ship Agents Association to allow free time to importers. A letter in this regard was issued by Additional Collector Omar Shafique on 3 April, 2020.
Now finally the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), on the proposal moved by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, approved the KPT Board Resolution for extension in existing free period from 5 working days to 15 working days for cargo/containers landing with effect from 25-3-2020 till 30-4-2020. Traders, importers and customs agents applaud efforts of Customs Today team for national cause.