MULTAN: Renowned industrialist and ex-president of Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan Chamber of Commerce & Industry and former Punjab caretaker minister for industries Khawaja Jala uddin Roomi has sought action against shipping companies for not implementing their decision to waive demurrage and detention charges during COVID-19.
He was talking to Customs Today exclusively regarding the demurrage and detention charges being charged by shipping companies in the wake of COVID-19.
He said that the business community needs a comprehensive Corona Revival Plan and COVID-19 is also an opportunity to revisit economic policymaking and develop a national economic plan with broad consensus. Government must prioritize the welfare of the common man with food and basic supplies and services.
He suggested that the Government should announce a special revival package for youth and a relief package for common man.
Submitting his budget proposals at a video conference attended by Prime Minister’s advisor for Finance Dr.Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, PM’s advisor on Commerce, Investment and Industry Abdul Razak Dawood, Federal Minister for industry and production Hammad Azhar, Chairperson of FBR Nausheen Javed Amjad, Khawaja Jalaluddin roomi said that next National budget for 2020-21 was a test case for the Government and it should introduce far-reaching reforms enabling the most vulnerable segments of the society to absorb the economic shocks and supporting the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to tackle disruption in economic activities. He suggested that the Government should increase the minimum wages up to Rs.20, 000/-for industrial workers.
He said agriculture needed special attention because it is the economy’s backbone. He highlighted the need for water policy and better water management.
He said that the textile sector was dependent on cotton. “And we must have policies and incentives to move to higher-end farm products. He said that cotton production must be increased to 20 million bales and we should avoid exporting raw cotton or cotton yarn. Instead, we should pay attention to value addition to engage the maximum number of workers to end unemployment. He reiterated his demand to export garments, stitched, and finished goods. He said that reforms are needed at the micro-level, whereas the policy space focuses on the macro. We must rethink the role of government so that they have a greater role in education and health services to the people.
Roomi said the job creation must be another key consideration for the government to respond to the growing unemployment which was resulted in the aftermath of the coronavirus. He said amid global economic slowdown due to the corona pandemic, the financial losses to textile export industries were multiplying every day and exporters were facing severe liquidity crises. He said that with a view to keep the industry alive, a major problem is cash flow and the zero-rating facility is the only way for survival.Business Community is facing liquidity issues and they are not in position to pay any demurrage and detention charges to shipping companies and terminal operators. Majority of importers are unable to transport their shipments to their warehouses due to global pandemic of COVID-19.Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi asked PM Imran Khan to announce the previous system of ‘No Payment No Refund’ at least for one year to save the export industry, as FBR claim of instant refunds release has totally failed, especially in the challenging time of global epidemic when the foreign buyers have also held the payments for indefinite time. He was of the view that the country’s exports decreased by almost 50 per cent while home remittances also declined significantly due to closure of global markets while another 25 per cent decline in exports is expected. He said. “Payments of already shipped goods in Jan, Feb and March from foreign buyers have been held for an indefinite period. “We don’t have liquidity in hand to run the industry in coming months, so we are seeking restoration of zero rating regimes to run the wheel of industry,”
He expressed his serious concerns over severe liquidity crunch owing to non-payment by the international buyers for an indefinite period amidst worldwide lockdown due to pandemic. He further suggested that the Government should provide interest-free loans to educated and skilled youths to stand them on their own feet and to promote small and medium entrepreneurs.
Roomi suggested freezing the tariff of electricity and gas for one year period because POL products rates fell by 67 percent. He demanded Prime Minister’s advisors .Sheikh Abdul Hafeez, Abdul Razak Dawood and Federal Minister Hammad Azhar to intervene in the matter of demurrage and detention charges for relieving importers to revive their businesses.
Government appreciated the proposals of Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi describing them viable and far-reaching. They assured that these suggestions would be made a part of the next budget to be announced on June 12.