PM help sought for release of containers | The Express Tribune



The business community has appealed to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to give directives for the swift release of containers carrying imported goods, which were ordered before the ban was imposed on imports of luxury items, and waive the demurrages as well.

The high-level intervention was sought to get released an approximately 900 containers that had been held by the customs authorities following the ban on imports of 85 categories of luxury items vide SRO 598 (i)/2022, which was issued on May 19, 2022.

“It is unfair and irrational to detain the containers imported before the ban was imposed and also demurrage charges must be waived as the delay has been caused because of the government’s indecision over the matter,” Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) President Zulfikar Thaver told The Express Tribune.

“It is a rule of trade and business that you cannot impose new laws on old contracts,” he added.

Similarly, the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) denounced the non-clearance of containers at ports as a result of the ban on luxury items, according to a statement.

KCCI President Muhammad Idrees appealed to PM Shehbaz and Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail to look into the matter and order the immediate release of stuck containers as well as waive the demurrage charges to compensate the importers for the losses.

Idrees claimed that around 800-900 containers that were booked before the issuance of SRO 598, got stuck at the ports as the customs authorities refused to clear those consignments.

Businessmen Group Chairman Zubair Motiwala said that hefty demurrages had put the importers under severe stress. “The situation has caused shortage of several items in the market, which needs to be addressed urgently.”

Both Motiwala and Idrees urged the government for an immediate resolution of the issue.

Arif Habib Commodities CEO Ahsan Mehanti commented that the business community had lost confidence in the government because of its unpredictable changes in policies that were causing losses.

“Clearance of imported goods ordered before the ban and waiver on demurrages is a must to help traders who are bearing losses due to the high container costs caused by the
global inflation.”

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) media head Faizul Haq told The Express Tribune that their talks with the relevant ministry have been fruitful and SRO 598 date will be extended.

FPCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said the detailed negotiations with the federal ministry have been successful and an expected extension in the date of implementation of SRO 598 is soon to be notified.

“We thank the federal government in advance on behalf of the entire business, industry and trade community of Pakistan,” Sheikh said. This will be a great relief for the importers and save them from losses amounting to billions of rupees; as the SRO 598 was imposed suddenly and a sort of quarantine was imposed at all ports on the luxury items in-transit, under existing orders or under other commercial transactional procedures.

Business community has been advocating the extension in the date of implementation of SRO 598 from day one; when it was notified on May 19, 2022 as the ban was sudden and would have caused huge losses to the importers, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2022.

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