Daily The Business

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COVID-19: Illegal detention, demurrages charges damaging import business

By Jahangir Hayat

LAHORE: The shipping lines and private port terminal operators have been charging illegal detention and demurrages charges damaging the import business in the country while it seems no one is there to question them as to why they have defied Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) direction about not charging demurrages and detention to from both commercial and industrial importer amid the lockdowns due to COVID-19 and global economic crisis.

This was stated by Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) former vice president and PIAF senior vice chairman Nasir Hameed while talking to Daily The Business on the other day.

He said that despite repeated requests and written orders by the government functionaries including FBR neither the shipping lines nor the private port terminal operators including Maersk Shipping Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company, CMA -CGM Group, Ever Green Marine Line, China Ocean Shipping Group, COSCO Company, Diamond Shipping Line, Green Pak Shipping Company, Ocean Network Express Pakistan PVT LTD and many other foreign shipping lines operative in Pakistan have considered the genuine concern of the business community in giving relief on account of detention and demurrages.

“The business community had requested the Ministry of Maritime Affairs to instruct all the shipping terminals and shipping lines not to charge demurrage and detention till the pandemic is over. It was also requested to refund the demurrage, detention and other charges to those importers who have paid them to clear their consignments during lockdown period, Hameed said.

“The terminal authorities have rejected the relief announced by FBR to extend the free period at terminals for charging demurrage in line with the lockdown extension in the country,” Hameed said, adding that 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 turned deaf ear on FBR and other government functionaries which an utter
violation of the PM’s directives to facilitate the businesses.

He said that the authorities’ target is just profit and revenue generation even in the time of worldwide pandemic and grave financial crisis while each and every department all around the country are struggling to provide maximum facilities to the industry but the terminal authorities is not ready to cooperate in this regard and this matter should be brought to the notice of Prime Minister of Pakistan.

To fight with the challenging pandemic it is very encouraging that the government is announcing relief packages for export sectors and local industries reducing interest rate, giving rebates, subsidies, suspending taxes and extensions in the date of filing of Tax Returns etc. The prime minister must take notice of the situation created by shipping lines and private port terminal operators for nothing, he said.

“The commercial and industrial importers are not in position to sustain the financial burden and pay exorbitant detention and
demurrage charges,” he said adding that during the lockdowns government can be the only facilitator for the business community to help them in coping with the challenging times.

All industrial and commercial importers are facing the brunt of the COVID-19 and to reduce their losses the PM should take stern action against the company illegally charging detention and demurrages charges.

Relief on account of free detention and demurrages can prove as a timely support to the local industries, he concluded.

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