PESHAWAR: The establishment of an independent regulatory authority to resolve problems being faced by the importers of the country is mandatory to curb illegal holding of consignments at Qasim International Port Terminal by shipping lines to demand extra demurrage and detention charges. Illegal holding of imported goods continues without hesitation at Port Qasim, as importers are being allegedly “conned” in the name of “additional demurrage and detention charges” by port terminals and shipping lines.
Saad Khan, Vice President Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry privy to this development further told Customs Today that owing to the “nexus” of some customs’ officials, port terminals, and shipping lines, the importers are being asked to pay additional demurrage and detention charges despite providing the ‘delay and detention certificate’.
Saad Khan said the importers are being forced to pay huge amounts on each consignment as shipping lines fearlessly hold their containers, adding that despite several complaints in this regard, the authorities are reluctant to act against the alleged fleecing of importers.
He said importers are facing heavy losses on a daily basis due to the unprofessional behavior of the port staff, adding that apart from professional losses, such illegalities are also denting the importers personally, in terms of reputation of their businesses and delays in deliveries.
According to the section 14A of the Customs Act, 1969, an importer cannot be forced to pay any demurrage or detention charges if the Customs Department issues a certificate called the ‘delay and detention certificate’. However, sources confirmed, despite showing the certificate, the importers are being charged of heavy amounts as demurrage. Shipping companies are involved in collection of excess logistic charges under rules 603(q), 603(r), 604(p), 604(q) & 607(e), others under SRO 1220/2015.
Saad khan added that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was likely to start an inquiry against the alleged collection of demurrage and detention charges from the importers, following complaints against the shipping lines, and port terminals by importers from all over Pakistan.
He further revealed that an application against the staff of Maersk lines and Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) for registration of a First Information Report (FIR) was also submitted with the Port Qasim police station. Reportedly, importers have complained that Maersk shipping line, its subsidiary in Pakistan, Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd, and Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) are robbing them of billions of rupees through criminal breach of trust. Importers have decided to book the Maersk and QICT in criminal cases due to which Maersk and QICT could face complete closure in Pakistan.
It is pertinent to mention that the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) had already raised its voice against the charging of additional amounts from importers. The chamber had also demanded the establishment of an independent regulatory authority to give an end to the problems being faced by the importers of the country.