MULTAN: Ministry of Port and Shipping should take notice into the matter and constitute special committee to resolve the issue of genuine importers and stop Maersk shipping line from collecting illegal demurrage and detention charges on clearance of shipments.
This was stated by President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF) Mian Zahid Hussain while talking to Customs Today exclusively here the other day. He expressed deep concern over sheer blackmailing by Maersk shipping line.
He said that PBIF was constantly receiving a lot of complaints from clearing agents and importers against this shipping line involved in taking unjustified demurrage and detention charges from importers.
He said that several importers and their clearing agents have raised issue of additional demurrage and detention charges collected by Maersk line but Ministry of Ports and Shipping did not give any attention towards this issue. He said that importers and shipping companies have different views on demurrage and detention charges but but few importers were charged demurrage and detention charges after issuance of Customs delay and detention certificates and they were compelled to clear their shipments after payment of unjustified demurrage and detention charges. These undue charges from shipping company Maersk increase their cost of business further.
He said the government is required to encourage the new investment in the country by removing all hurdles in prevailing situation. Manufacturing sector is playing significant role in the economy of country which provides employment opportunities and government should promote this sector through provision of cheap and easy accessibility of raw material by offering incentive in duty taxes.
He suggested that the government should take action against the shipping line for violating the law by charging unfair demurrage and detention charges from genuine importers which is also spoiling peaceful business environment in the country.
He said that country cannot achieve growth without eradication of corruption and for this purpose blackmailing of Maersk line should be abolished to promote business environment in the country. He recommended that Special Committee of Ports and Shipping after probing the whole matter should punish the shipping line to restore confidence of business community.
Meanwhile, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) received a complaint seeking probe to ascertain role of employees of Maersk Line in country’s biggest shipping scandal involving 610 billion rupees.
Importers lodged application against Maersk Line and its subsidiary in Pakistan Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd for conspiracy, cheating and criminal breach of trust under PPC 407, 409, 420, 427, 506 and others so that these fraudsters are stopped to blackmail genuine importers by demanding ‘illegal’ additional charges.
The complaint received by the NAB and the FIA demanded legal action for recoveries of amounts looted and recovering losses of Rs. 610 billion to the national exchequer per year while also stopping such further losses from the accused persons of Maersk Line and M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd including Søren Skou, Claus V. Hemmingsen, Søren Toft, Vincent Clercp, Morten H. Engelstoft, others of Maersk Line and Arslan Khan, Hazanfar Khan, Raheel Salim, Maqsood Ul Hasan Khan, Fuad Khan, Hasan Faraz, Shakeel Masih, Omer Khan, Ali Jawad Alvi, Zafar Iqbal, Ayesha Chowdhry, Zahid Hussain, Salman Ahmad, Aamir Ali, Umais Aziz Khan, Mohammed Naeem, Farheen Mahmud, Mubasshar Iqbal, Affaq Syed, Syed Mohammad Abbas Jafri, Muhammad Tanveer Sharif, Salman Ateeq, Hamza Haq, Ziad Mahboob, Aamir Ibrahim, Yasir Saeed Khan, Amal Sadiq Dawood, Effat Mehmood, Maria Urooj, Zain Warsi, Mehreen Zulfiqar, Awais Saleem, Zafar Iqbal, Syed Osman Iqbal Zaidi, Anum Yaqub, Fahad Ali, Obaid Iqbal, Zahid Hussain, Muhammad Ali Qureshi, Danish Siddiqui, Amir Arif, Arshad Ayub, Syed Mudassir Ali, Syed Hammad Hussain, Ayesha Qadri, Sheikh Samiullah, others of M/S Maersk Pakistan Private Limited.
As per the complaint received by the FIA and the NAB, the nexus of some Customs staff, shipping lines like Maersk Line along with its agent Maersk Pakistan Private Limited, including its owners, managers & staff are making illegal money through malpractice.
“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. These shipping lines also force the importers to pay huge illegal sums. The customs staff and 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 said.
The complaint received by the FIA and the NAB said, “The total revenue collection by customs department is Rs. 610 billion. If the process of revenue collection is not slowed down by the above-mentioned parties then at least the revenue collections could be doubled. Hence, total loss to national exchequer due to above nexus and illegal acts of the subject accused is Rs. 610 billion”.
“The 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 shipping lines charges only 30% of its cost from the importer to allure importer to give his containers to them. All remaining 70% of cost and huge profits are made through illegal means and black money. Like China-Pak cost of shipment for a 40HQ container is charged USD 300 whereas the actual cost to the shipping company is USD 1,000. Pak-China freight is almost USD 0 to USD 10 which is even more surprising. When white income of these shipping lines is only 30% of their cost then it is obvious that they are indulging in many illegal and black activities to cover cost and also make huge profits,” the complaint said.
“When complaints are made to Customs department then they do not take action against the accused which is mandatory under sections 156 (1) 7A of the Customs Act, 1969 and also rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others of SRO 1220 (I)/2015. The nexus of some Customs officials and Maersk Line has made these active provisions of law entirely redundant and they should be severely punished for the same,” the complaint said.
The complaint demanded from the FIA and the NAB to take legal action against the subject accused persons, recover amounts looted by them, recover losses suffered by national exchequer to the tune of Rs. 610 billion per year and stop further losses.