LAHORE: Importers have not been extended any relief in demurrage and detention despite the government has been repeatedly reminded of the high-handedness of port terminals and shipping lines amid Covid-19 which has destroyed the entire fabric of global economy.
Importers and business leaders across the country have continued seeking demurrages and detention charges due to the intense economic downturn due to the Covid-19 as they are unable to arrange cash any time soon as supplies are cut and industries are shutdown.
Importers and business leaders including Lahore Chamber of Commerce President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Mian Zahid Javaid, FEBR president Kashif Anwer, Nasir Hameed Khan, Zeshan Khalil, Shahid Nazir, Rao Khursheed, Adeeb Sheikh and others observed that due to Covid-19 the cash flows of businesses are badly affected. Industrial as well as commercial importers are in severe liquidity crunch owing to failure of the government to get its financial schemes implemented announced by the SBP to facilitate the business community.
They said that more than three weeks have passed but no relief has been announced by any shipping line or port terminal, which is sheer violation of the government advice and clear directions of various state agencies like FBR and EDB to relax detention and demurrage charges at least in lockdown period.
They urged the government to take action against those port terminals and shipping lines which are not ready to listen to the State.
“Your immediate action will save us from financial burden and help us in running our businesses smoothly. The whole business community is looking at your timely earliest decision,” they added. They argued that the Ministry of Maritime Affairs should again instruct all the shipping terminals and shipping lines not to charge demurrage and detention till the pandemic is over. “We request you to refund the demurrage, detention and other charges to those importers who have paid them to clear their consignments during this period of lockdown.”
The terminal authorities for rejecting the recommendations of the FBR to extend the free period at terminals for charging demurrage, in line with the lockdown extension in the country, they added.
At a time when federal as well as the provincial governments are endeavoring to facilitate the business community on account of the lockdown the terminal authorities and shipping companies have flatly refused the proposals of Engineering Development Board and FBR which is sheer violation of the PM’s directives to facilitate the businesses, they viewed.
In order to cope with the challenges of prevailing worldwide pandemic Covid-19 it is very encouraging that different Ministries are continuously announcing various relief packages for export sectors and other local industries in the form of reduction in interest rate, concession, rebates, subsidies, suspension of taxes and extensions in the date of filing of Tax Returns etc, they said adding that we want to bring in your kind notice that in the absence of feasible economic conditions, the liquidity situation of businesses have badly disturbed.
“It is impossible for commercial and industrial importers to bear further financial losses and pay exorbitant detention and demurrage charges. In view of the lockdown government can be the only facilitator for the business community to help them in curtailing their losses in these hard times. We request you, on behalf of the all industrial and commercial importers, to take penal action against those companies which are not implementing the directives of the government,” they said.