KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has taken up the issue of illegal demurrage and detention charges taken from importers by the KICT.
According to details, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Corporate Crime Circle Karachi has launched the enquiry of issue of blackmailing and cheating by the KICT by issuing Letter# FIA/CCC/K/ENQ-92/2018/2661-62 and Letter# FIA/CCC/K/ENQ-92/2018/2990-91 in this regard.
At least 30 newspapers and TV channels, several chambers and lawyers have also taken up the issue of blackmailing by terminal operators, shipping lines and their agents. Specifically Senator Ilyas Bilour, former KCCI President Muffasar Atta Malik, former President Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industries Faiz Muhammad, former President of Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) Zia ul Haq Sarhadi, former President Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry Fauzia Inayat, President Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malik Asrar Ahmad Awan, former President MCCI Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Vice President Zeshan Khalil, former President MCCI Khawaja Muhammad Usman, former president Lahore Tax Bar Association (LTBA) Qamar Uz Zaman, senior Advocates Peshawar High Court (PHC) Noor Alam Khan and Mohib Kakakheil also voiced their concern on continuous blackmailing by shipping companies and terminal operators causing huge losses to the importers.
Sources said that through this mega scam of demurrage and detention, KICT is looting and bleeding the genuine importers of Pakistan and robbing billions of rupees from them annually. Law under SRO 1220(I)/ 2015 explains that shipping companies & terminal operators cannot charge any demurrage and detention where specifically it is not agreed and also specifically not mentioned on the B/L (Bill of Lading) but this law is grossly being violated by shipping lines and their agents. As per Customs Act, 1969, the port cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges if Customs gives a certificate to importer titled ‘Delay and Detention Certificate’. But despite this certificate, importers goods’ are held illegally at KICT and they are charged with heavy demurrage.
“Firstly, customs department delays goods of majority of containers that arrive in red channel. 80% of the goods cleared in red channel take a duration which is more than the free days provided by the port terminals. Hence, the port terminals take huge amounts from the importers on each consignment thus delayed. These shipping lines also force the importers to pay huge illegal sums. All these three: the customs staff, port terminals, shipping lines as mentioned above delay the clearance and delivery of the goods to the importer. Due to this delay, the revenue collection of duty and taxes is slowed down drastically of the actual speed. Like where these goods were to be cleared and delivered in 2 days then it takes an average of 20 days to clear and deliver,” the complaint to the FIA said.
“The terminal ports and shipping lines are not allowed to collect any demurrage and detention amounts from the importer when the importer provides ‘delay and detention certificate’ under section 14 A of the Customs Act, 1969. Despite this, the port terminals and shipping lines blackmail and harass the importer to collect hundreds of thousands of rupees per single consignment. Since this is illegal money demanded from the citizens of Pakistan and hence it can be termed as an ‘extortion’ amount,” the complaint said.
The complaint said, furthermore, under rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others of SRO 1220 (I)/2015, the shipping lines cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges where it is not specifically written on the B/L. But still in violation of these rules and laws, the shipping lines fearlessly hold the containers of the importers and charge them exorbitant detention charges. These detention charges even exceed the actual cost of container by a whopping 1,000%!
The complaint said, “The businessmen of Pakistan lose daily due to non-availability of the said goods, reputation loss, loss of customers, etc. and also the goods quality deteriorate daily and lead to total loss very soon if the goods are not disposed in the markets”.
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