Government’s bids to regulate charges at local ports hit snags | Pakistan Today

Government’s bids to regulate charges at local ports hit snags

KARACHI: The government’s belated efforts to devise an effective legal mechanism to regulate the shipping lines, port and terminal operators, ship agents, freight forwarders and other port users have hit a snag.
It is inexplicable that Pakistan, a country consisting of three seaports and at least 11-vessel shipping fleet, has been deprived of specific laws to regulate the logistic service providers at local ports for one and half decade.
The traders’ agitation at overcharging by some of the terminal operators, shipping lines, their local agents, freight forwarders and other logistics service providers forced the Ministry of Commerce and other concerned authorities to realise the ever-present pressing need for specific laws, a centralised authority and effective mechanism to regulate the rates of various services in the ports and shipping industry.
The Ministry of Commerce had several rounds of talks with stakeholders,
developed consensus and formulated an Ordinance on the pattern of Shipping Trade Practices Bill, 2008 of India which the stakeholders believe if duly amended would suit “the requirements of the situation in Pakistan at best”. The stakeholders held at least four meetings under the head of “Harmonisation of Scale of Charges” at KPT head office on January 18, February 26, June 11 and October 11 of this year.
Sources revealed that stakeholders had decided to form at least three committees to finalise ways to rationalise rates for various logistics services in particular the shipping agents and freight forwarders in their fourth and last meeting held on October 11.
The three committees formed included Ministry of Commerce Commit policy department tee, Ports and Shipping (PS) Committee and State Bank of Pakistan Committee.
The MoC Committee comprises of the director general trade organisation, collector customs preventive, chairman of the Pakistan Ships’ Agent Association, Kamran Chandna and Naqi Bari and representatives of freight forwarders and inland container operators.
The PS Committee is consisted of DG Ports and Shipping, chairpersons of the three seaports, collector Customs Preventive, President Karachi Customs Agents Association, PSAA chairman and representatives of FPCCI, exporters and importers.
The SBP Committee comprising the director exchange policy department, PSAA chief, representatives of the FPCCI and traders. Sources said that the three committees were asked to begin work right away. Whereas the two committees, MoC and PS, had scheduled meetings, SBP committee had hit a serious snag and was therefore unable to work.
“The SBP committee is unable to work due to the litigation process pertaining to the bank’s dispute with traders on Bill of Lading issue,” sources told Pakistan Today. The PS Committee would meet on November 30, 2010 in order to identify measures to proceed with the proposed legislation, sources said.
The PS committee would look into the charging and duplication of various duties at local ports and container terminals like wet charges, terminal handling charges etc., they added.
The MoC committee would formulate and finalise regulatory laws for the freight forwarders and other concerned in consultation with all stakeholders, sources said. Sources claimed that the proposed legislation had many serious “flaws”.
“The proposed ordinance envisages DG ports and shipping as an Appellate Authority, while ironically the licensing authority would be resting with the (Pakistan) Customs,” said sources privy to “Harmonization of Scale of Charges” meetings.
Stakeholders in the “Harmonisation of Scale of Charges” include the ministries of Commerce and Ports and Shipping, National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee (NTTFC), State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, Pakistan Customs, Port Qasim Authority, Karachi Port Trust, Gwadar Port Authority, Pakistan National Shipping Corporation, Karachi International Container Terminal, Pakistan International Container Terminal, Qasim International Container Terminal, PSC, Karachi Customs Agents Association, Terminal Association of Pakistan, Pakistan Stevedoring Conference, Pakistan Ships Agents Association, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, All Pakistan Dry Port Association, Pakistan International Freight Forwarders Association and others.

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