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Defiance of govt orders by shipping lines, port terminals becomes major issue

Defiance of govt orders by shipping lines, port terminals becomes major issue

Chambers, association, importers continue write letters to PM

LAHORE: Non Compliance of the government directives by the Shipping lines and port terminals illegal charges has become one of the major issue in the country as following numerous requests by importers and various association including Friends of Economic and Business Reforms, chambers, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also written a letter to the Prime Minister drawing his attention to the continuous defiance of government authorities orders by the port terminal operators and the shipping lines.

LCCI president Irfan Iqbal Sheikh in the letter written to the PM said, “We appreciate all the measures taken by the Government to facilitate the business community during the current challenging economic situation. You are cognizant of the fact that due to lockdown imposed to combat COVID-19 outbreak in the country; the restrictions on movement of transport are resulting in heavy demurrage charges at the port.

Furthermore, the shipping lines are imposing container detention charges. Due to this prevailing situation, the importers have to bear huge financial losses. To provide a relief to the businesses, the government directed the Port authorities to provide extension in the existing free period from five working days to 15 working days for cargo/containers,” the LCCI president wrote, adding that the Shipping Companies are not complying with the government directives and are not facilitating the businesses in this regard.

Your Excellency is therefore requested to intervene in the matter and direct the concerned authorities to ensure that Shipping Companies provide relief to businesses in line with the Government directives regarding demurrage and detention charges,” the LCCI president said.  Earlier FEBR president Kashif Anwer has twice written letters to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking relief in demurage detention penalties and extension in date of utilities like gas, telephone, mobile, water and others and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for income tax, EOBI, Education Cess, Social Security and other revenue authorities to extend the due dates of all the payments until the cash flows get settled and markets are opened.

He said this in a letter written to Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan on Saturday. “It is further prayed not to take any penal action if payments are not made within due dates meanwhile,” the FEBR president said.

He said that PM’s timely action will save the businessmen from further financial burden and help them in running their industries smoothly when the pandemic of COVID-19 will end.  “We on behalf of the whole business community complement your untiring efforts to overcome disastrous impacts which COVID-19 has brought for the economy. It is true that Government of Pakistan is trying its level best to facilitate the Nation by announcing different monetary packages to overcome the financial challenges,” he said in the letter.

“Your good self knows that due to this pandemic all the retail & wholesale markets except those exempted are closed in the country since 22nd March 2020. Majority of the business activities have suspended due to which cash flow of every business and individual is badly affected and it has become difficult to fulfill the necessities of life. Industries and businesses are closed resultantly rise in unemployment is expected in days to come,” he added in the letter.  “Our Government via different ministries is announcing numerous reliefs for trade & industry but some sectors need your attention too.  An example is of charging heavy demurrage and detention charges at all ports and by all shipping lines,” the letter said.  Keeping in view the effects of lockdown afterwards on the economy, we request you to ask Ministry of Maritime Affairs to direct all shipping terminals and dry ports not to charge detention and storage charges from importers, also take up the matter of charging heavy detention with all master shipping lines seriously till the pandemic is not over so the importers can be saved from further financial burdens, the FEBR president said in the letter.

Pakistan Tax Bar Association (PTBA) president Aftab Nagra, Qari Habibur Rehman Zubari and other office bearers urged the government to bring down rate of tax, interest rate to 5 percent and extend demurrages and detention free time.

They said that COVID-19 has played havoc with the world economy and every country has suffered losses.

They said that in such condition single bringing tax rate and interest rate down to 5 percent is inevitable.

They said that Pakistan economic condition had already been passing through tough time and now that pandemic has erupted the economy has come to a grinding halt.

They said that the government should come forward to play its role by assisting business community in shape of offering soft loans, waivers of utility bills and demurages and detention charges.  Talking about the import business they said that the private shipping lines have not extended free demurages and detention day which is tent amount to destroy the import business in the country.  The prive shipping lines and Terminals should be bridled as they have rejected the directions of even government functionaries including Federal Board of Revenue.

They said that the PM should take stern notice of the disobedience of the private terminals and Shipping Lines.

They said post Corona situation will not simple but challenging and trade and Industry should be provided with reliefs so they  can better come out of the worst ever crisis.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) SAID that the shutdown of industries and suspension of trading activities have affected the entire supply chain and the importers have not been able to supply goods to factories and wholesale markets, resulting in a liquidity crunch.

Meanwhile, several importers have not been able to get their import documents cleared from banks due to shortage of funds.

In defiance of directives to allow 15-day free storage to importers for all cargoes imported between March 25 and April 30, 2020, the terminal operators have not allowed additional 10 days of free storage over and above the regular free time of five days, said the KCC  spokesperson