LAHORE: A sense of deep sorrow and resentment has prevailed among Pakistani importers following the government is likely to waive over Rs0.4billion demurrages charges on Afghanistan-bound containers considering it as a special case on the request of Afghanistan’s parliamentary delegation.
As per reports, Afghanistan parliamentary delegation’s second meeting of the task force on Customs (demurrage waive-off issues) of containers of the Executive Committee of Pakistan-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Group was held on July 22, 2020 in the National Assembly Secretariat, Islamabad. The agenda of the meeting was “discussion with institutional stakeholders on waiving off of high port demurrage for Afghan bound containers stuck at Pakistani ports.’
During the meeting, Chairperson of the task force stated that as agreed on June 3, 2020 in the meeting held at the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Maritime Affairs would move a summary for the ECC for waiver of demurrage charges on Afghanistan-bound containers stuck at ports for the period March 24, 2020 to July 21, 2020 incurred primarily due to Covid-19 pandemics impact at the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Pakistani importers expressing their resentment said that importers across the country have moved from pillar to post to get waivers of demurrages and detention as their businesses hit a bump in the road due to COVID-19 crisis but none of the government functionaries listened to them resultantly the importers have to pay huge demurrages detention charges despite the fact that they have been facing financial crunch due the pandemic.
“The importer was facing financial crunches due the Covid-19 pandemic as every type of the business was shut. Payments were stuck and what we had with us was our stocks, banks were reluctant to extend loans to the businessmen. This was the worst ever time which we have never seen before,” Kashif Anwar, president, Friends of Economic and Business Reforms, told this scribe, adding that businessmen across the country made numerous fervent appeals to the government and its functionaries including Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) but none took the situation seriously and the importers had to paid fines demurrages and detention charges to release their consignments.
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry former SVP Khawaja Khawar said that the government should prioritize Pakistani businessmen. If they are giving free time to Afghanistan importers’ free time facility during the COVID-19 period from March to July Pakistani importers should also be given relief.
“Most of the Pakistani importers have to pay huge demurrages and detention charges besides fine to get their goods released which is an injustice,” he said.
Usman Ghani, former Central Chairman of Pakistan Hardware Merchants Association (PHMA) said that this is very discriminatory and illogical that Pakistani importers have been extended no relief while the government is considering waiver for the Afghan importers during the peak COVID-19 period in Pakistan.
He said that Pakistani importers should be refunded the demurrages detention charges which they paid to get their goods and articles released.