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COVID-19 lockdown: FEBR writes letter PM seeking demurrages, detention relief

Our Special Correspondent

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, Friend of Economic and Business Reforms (FEBR) president Kashif Anwar has written a letter to Prime Minister Pakistan Imran Khan urging the PM to order private terminal to ensure free 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 not 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 (copy enclosed) which clearly mentioned that
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company understands the lockdown has had a
cascading effect on Import Cargo clearance. The company stated “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 March 22nd till April 14th. 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 other
countries, he concluded.

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