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Govt asked to shift Afghan cargo handling to Gwadar

Updated August 19, 2017
GWADAR: The first outbound cargo vessel was leaving the port in November 2016.—Dawn
GWADAR: The first outbound cargo vessel was leaving the port in November 2016.—Dawn

KARACHI: Traders and industrialists have urged the government to shift the handling of Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) from Karachi to Gwadar Port in order to ease cargo-related congestion and ever-growing pressure on the city’s road network.

This was stated by All Pakistan Customs Agents’ Association’s Senior Vice Chairman, Arshad Jamal, at a seminar on ‘Tax Reforms and Procedures’, organised by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), on Friday.

This, the association deems, would be a win-win situation for all stakeholders as the ATT cargo will have to travel a shorter distance from Balochistan to Afghan border. It was also suggested that Nato and other transit cargo destined for the Afghanistan should be directed via Gwadar Port.

The move will help ease congestion at Karachi port

Mr Jamal disclosed that the Gwadar Port’s director operations has already agreed to allow the ATT traders a three-month grace period during which no demurrage would be charged for the anchored cargo. This, he said, would contain the movement of heavy vehicles from city roads to a large extent.

Above all, the business cost for Afghan importers would also come down due to reduction in transportation cost and demurrage waiver, while at the same time this move will also activate the port which is under-utilised.

Moreover, this would not only generate employment in Balochistan, but also help the Quetta Customs department raise more revenue, Mr Jamal added.

Speaking on the occasion, Qamar Alam, Chairman FPCCI’s standing committee on customs, stressed the need for urgent reforms in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

“Presently the standard operating procedures of the FBR retard economic growth,” he said.

Since the government has already planned to lay down railway lines across Balochistan, he suggested that a track should also be built near the Afghan border. It will allow direct transportion of ATT cargo across the border.

Mr Alam highlighted tax related issues confronting the trade and industry and demanded speedy reforms to boost economic growth.

Deputy Chairman Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, who was chief guest on the occasion, assured the participants that he would take up all the issues with the authorities concerned.

He suggested formation of a coordination committee comprising the FBR, customs agents and trade and industry representatives and members of the Senate for sorting out these issues and proposing necessary legislation for reforms to facilitate the trade and industry.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2017