KARACHI: Shipping companies are fleecing importers in the absence of regulating authority, Chairman of Ports, Shipping and Multi Model Transport of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Asif Nisar Vohra said.
Talking to Customs Today on Friday, he said a most apt example of this could be the long reimbursing of the container security deposit not within seven days as ordained in Ordinance No. 7/2005 but after at least one month at best or after two months at worst.
Mr. Vohra, who is also a Member of KCCI’s Managing Committee, said that around 1,000 ships arrive at two Karachi ports, namely the Karachi Port Trust and the Port Muhammad Bin Qasim, annually. Even if each vessel carries an average of 1,500 Tonnes Equivalent Units, this means that 1.5 million TEUs are handled by the two ports, he added.
Though, Mr. Vohra continued, the container security deposit charge differs from shipping company to shipping company the average charge is around Rs 120,000 for a 20-feet container and Rs 150,000 for a 40-feet container. The average container security charge of the two container size, thus, works out to be around Rs 135,000 a container and when you calculate this for 1.5 million containers the total amount charged under this particular head adds up to a staggering total of Rs 202.5 billion a year, he continued.
The delayed 1-2 month longish reimbursement of container security deposit against the law seems geared to let shipping companies immense extra revenue from the money that should have been reimbursed to the importers within the prescribed seven-day limit as per the law, Vohra lamented.
This practice of fleecing the importers should stop but could not because there is just no authority to monitor and regulate the shipping companies, he added, saying that he is still awaiting the reply to a letter that he personally handed over to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar many months ago.
The letter informing the Finance Minister about the absence of an Authority to control shipping companies said that absence of fixed rates and instructions for shipping companies resulted in the shipping countries charging their own rates thus pushing up the cost for the businessmen. The letter requested the Finance Minister to establish an Authority to monitor and regulate the shipping companies at the earliest and in the meanwhile establish at least an Association till an Authority is created having a member from the Finance Ministry and a member from the KCCI, which is working towards the establishment of just such an Authority.