Standing committee on shipping defers bill


The Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping National Assembly has saved the exporters of the country from a huge damage for a time being by deferring the Carriage of Goods by Sea Bill 2011. The efforts of a particular lobby of freight forwarders and shipping agents were rendered in vain due to this deference, a source present in the meeting informed Pakistan Today. He informed that the committee thought that the approval of the Sea Bill was contradictory to both the Foreign Exchange Manual and Marine Bill. The exporters questioned the committee on why the bill was even brought forth to which the committee replied that it was just one of the many bills it gets. The exporters urged the committee to instill Master Bill Lading (MBL), which is in accordance with international standards. According to MBL a shipping line assigns consignments to exporters who are approved by the bank. This basically ensures greater transparency as only the consignee can get the shipment, unlike HBL in which anyone may claim a shipment.
Maritime experts in this regard say that the House Bill of Lading (HBL) is damaging for exporters and there are many cases of frauds on record in which freight forwarders looted exporters on the basis of this bill, which is not a legally negotiable instrument but in fact just a receipt of cargo receiving. Legalizing the HBL in the shape of the Sea Bill 2011 by a lobby of freight forwarders and shipping agents through parliament is a gimmick. The approval of HBL in Pakistan would be a huge risk to exporters as currently there is no shipping authority to regulate freight forwarders. “Any body can receive the consignment on HBL and this is the loophole in it”, the maritime experts said. The source further said that the committee deferred the Bill after considering the dangers it has for the exports of the country. However, the lobby is still trying to legalize the Bill. The Ministry of Ports and Shipping stated the objectives of the Bill as ”a contract of carriage for transportation of goods by sea. It is a negotiable document of title and serves as receipt for carriage of goods, and is transferable by endorsement. The propriety in the goods passes to the endorsee”. At present the holders of transport documents other than the bill of lading do not have the necessary legal cover. “To provide legal cover the Sea Carriage Shipping Documents Bill, 2009 has been drafted to replace the Bill of Lading Act 1856”, the source said. It is pertinent to mention that National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping Wednesday directed the Ministry of Ports and Shipping to re-examine various clauses of the two bills related to ports and shipping tabled in the House.