Our Special Correspondent
LAHORE: The Friends of Economic and Business Reforms has appealed the central bank to formulate some financial policy for commercial and industrial importers like its various schemes already announced to facilitate SMEs, retail, corporate businesses, workers of business concerns and export sector.
In an open letter written to Mr. Reza Baqir, The Governor of State Bank of Pakistan, FEBR President Kashif Anwar said that no policy has yet been announced for the commercial and industrial importers, as they immensely need finance to get their consignments cleared from the port for the last over one month.
“We have no finance to get their documents released from banks and finally get their consignments cleared from ports.”
Because of closure of businesses, importers have no sufficient finances to clear their consignments due to which space at the ports is choking and as a result demurrage and detention charges are also piling up making the goods costlier.
“It is also sad that Government is trying to facilitate at their earliest possible but some relevant departments are not ready to abide by the instructions with full spirit. FBR is continuously writing to shipping terminals not to impose demurrage and detention charges of the containers, also ministry of maritime affairs has requested the associations of shipping lines to request the master shipping lines not to impose detention charges above free days but all that fell on their deaf ears.”
He appealed the SBP to send its recommendations to the government for directing all terminals at ports not to charge demurrage and compelling offices of shipping lines in Pakistan to inform their master shipping lines about the lockdown in Pakistan.
He said that because of lockdown there is no business activity. The existing credit limits by banks of many commercial and industrial importers are fully utilized. “Kindly enhance their limits for the time being without further securities or collateral so they get their documents from banks and get their consignments cleared from ports.”
Moreover, in order to facilitate importers and save them from demurrage and detention those importers who do not have cash and credit lines from banks, SBP may make payments to foreign suppliers on their behalf and take the custody of the related consignments, he suggested. When lockdown will be over grace period of four months should be given to the importers to return payment to SBP which had been made to the supplier on their behalf and deposit the duty and taxes amount against GD to have the ownership of the consignments, otherwise the procedure regarding auction will be initiated as per law, he added.
SBP after taking the custody of the containers with due consultation with the Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Shipping Lines may declare a free space by the State at the port in order to save the containers from further demurrage and detention till the consignments are cleared.
Kashif Anwar also suggested the SBP to devise a policy to announce new credit lines for those importers who have not availed financial limits from the banks ever before with lenient rules and regulations and minimum operational time from filing of request till the functioning of credit line. It will facilitate importers in these hard times to avail finances from commercial banks and clear their consignments.