LAHORE: The government should take stern action against shipping companies that are not ready to extend free days during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is the time industrial and commercial importers are facing hard times and they must be given relief despite the fact that the government functionaries including Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Pakistan Customs have requested and ordered the private terminals to extend free demurrages and detention days, the port and shipping companies have not complied with the directions amid the COVID-19 crisis.
This was stated by Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mian Zahid Javeid Ahmad while talking to Customs Today here on Thursday. He said the importers are compelled to pay huge demurrage and detention charges even if they are not at fault, he added and urged the PM and Commerce Minister to take notice of the situation as the defiance of the government’s orders on the part of the terminal operators is equal to challenging the writ of the government.
“This is tantamount to challenge the writ of the government and that too in the times of worst ever human crisis is an unbelievable violation on the part of the private terminals,” he said adding that using such crisis to earn profits also indicates moral deterioration of the ports and shipping companies. He said that in order to save the import business the private terminals should be forced to waive off demurrage and detention charges at least during these difficult times.
“The government should take stern action against the shipping companies that are not obeying the orders,” the LCCI VP said.
“We are cognizant of the fact that the shipping companies are minting money in the difficult times which is not good. We persuaded Federal Board of Revenue in this regard and the board has directed them to further increase 15 free days but most of the shipping companies are defying the directions. It is not understandable as to why the companies are not acting upon on the direction. On the other hand, these shipping companies have allowed free time to India while in case of Pakistan they are reluctant to do that. However, we are continuously persuading the issue and hope that it will be addressed soon, “ he added.
Speaking about the soft loan scheme for the trade and industry, he said that the government should not charge interest on loans for two to three months at least, payments of utility bills should also be deferred up to 50 percent for 2 to 3 months so the entrepreneurs could restart their business by not being affected by the shortage of cash and capital.
“Similarly, the government should also disburse interest free soft loans to the SMEs and small traders enabling them to restart their business,” he added.
“The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has introduced loans on 4 to 5 percent markup rate but that is not feasible in the prevailing situation. The loans should be disbursed on zero percent interest rates, ” he demanded.