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Pakistan Ship’s Agents Association refuse to accept KPT as regulator

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KARACHI : The ship agents came out with a hard-hitting response to the Karachi Port Trust chairman’s announcement to go tough against the shipping companies allegedly looting the local business community by overcharging.

In a statement, Pakistan Ship’s Agents Association (PSAA) has not only rejected the KPT chief’s instructions about shipping charges but also refused to accept it as a regulator of the shipping industry.

“The KPT is a landlord port, not a regulator, therefore shipping lines/agents are not bound to report to KPT or subject to being regulated by KPT,” the PSAA stressed.

The relations of shipping companies with the KPT got bitter when the business community complained about the overcharging and KPT Chairman Syed Syedain Raza Zaidi said the authority will go very tough against the highhandedness of shipping companies.

According to a press release issued by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) issued on Jan 17, Mr Zaidi said the shipping companies will be held accountable for allegedly looting the business community by overcharging under various heads without any justification.

“The shipping companies need to submit details of their registration, licence, relevant laws or any agreements within 10 days which authorised them to take excessively high charges ,” said Mr Zaidi.

However, the PSAA said the shipping lines/agents operating in Pakistan are duly licenced by Pakistan Customs and charge their customers as per their respective tariffs which are easily available online.

“Any outward remittance from Pakistan is checked and authorised by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), hence it is the appropriate regulator in this regard, not the KPT,” said the statement issued by PSAA.

Earlier, Mr Zaidi had sought details of any agreement between shipping companies and the SBP for remitting dollars outside Pakistan.

He said it seems that shipping companies were engaged in a “big offence” by acting against the interest of Pakistan and creating more problems for the country by remitting billions of dollars outside the country which requires special attention.

Shipping companies have been charging heavily since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019, which initially blocked or drastically reduced trade activities through sea worldwide.

After resumptions of trade with the ships, most of the large ports were full of products and needed to ship as quickly as possible. This situation provided a golden chance to the shipping companies and their charges shot up to record high.

The increase was as high as six times than normal charges. Despite normalisation, the shipping companies are still charging high tariffs which hurt exports from countries like Pakistan.

While meeting the business community at KCCI, Mr Zaidi asked the shipping companies who has permitted them to charge such hefty freight charges, rentals, and delivery order charges.

He said the KPT is the right authority from whom businessmen in distress could seek assistance in dealing with shipping companies and we’ll make sure that no injustice is being done.

“Pakistan’s trade is wholly dependent on foreign shipping lines hence the kind of allegations and irresponsible statements levelled by KCCI and unduly supported by the KPT impact foreign shipping lines’ interest to operate in Pakistan thereby jeopardising Pakistan’s trade and further cementing the country’s reputation as an unfriendly destination for foreign businesses,” said the statement issued by the PSAA.

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