LAHORE: The commercial and industrial importers have continued seeking relief of demurrage & detention at ports as after submitting to authorities concerned and receiving no positive response, Friend of Economic and Business Reforms (FEBR) president Kashif Anwar has written a letter to Prime Minister Pakistan Imran Khan urging him to order private terminals to ensure free period for Pakistani businessmen in the manners they allowed free time to the Indians amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As you know due to pandemic COVID-19 all the retail & wholesale markets since 22nd March 2020 are closed in the country. Majority of the business activities, trading, sales and purchase are stopped except some exempted sectors due to which cash flow of every business and individual is badly affected. It is true that the Government of Pakistan is trying its level best to facilitate the Nation by announcing different packages but sadly some departments are not implementing the orders in full spirit and the benefit could not be reached to affectees” the FEBR president wrote in the letter to the PM the other day.
He said that all the importers either commercial or industrial are in severe stress that they have no sufficient funds due to close down of businesses to release their consignments. FBR is continuously writing terminal authorities not to charge demurrage and detention but they are not listening to their requests, some have agreed not to charge demurrage if containers are released before 15th. April 2020 otherwise they have to pay full amount of demurrage and no facility of free days will be provided, he said. “We want to bring into your kind notice that Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the Principal shipping line through their agents MSC Agency (INDIA) Pvt. Ltd in India circulated vide client advisory note dated 30th March 2020 which clearly mentioned that MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company understands the lockdown has had a cascading effect on Import Cargo clearance.
“As a gesture to our esteemed clients, in this time of crisis, MSC shall extend free time on detention charges for all MSC Import Boxes lying unclear from 22 March till 14 April 2020. The free time for stated period shall be applicable to shipments discharged on or after March 05th, 2020 at any Indian Port and the free time shall be over and above the contracted free time at the time of booking” he stated.
“We pray you on behalf of the whole business community that we don’t want you to waive off our liabilities like utility bills but do request you to instruct related authorities not to charge surcharges, late payment and other charges in case utility bills are not paid in time until the businesses are not normalize,” he said, adding that revenue authorities may be instructed to extend the due dates of all the payments until the cash flows are not settled and markets are not open. It is requested not to take any penal action if payments are not made within due dates.
He explained that the ports are situated in Pakistan and are managed under our laws, importers are also Pakistani citizens like other communities they have the right to be facilitated, they want to release their consignments but are stuck due to financial crunches, keeping in view the incentive packages announced for the trade & industry instruct all port authorities not to charge demurrage until the lockdown is over.
Like the waiver of demurrage in neighboring country, the Government of Pakistan must write all the Agents of Master Shipping Lines in Pakistan to inform their principals that there is also lockdown position in Pakistan and no business is working, get the facility for our importers at least not to charge detention on containers as the facility shipping lines are giving to the importers of countries, he concluded.