LAHORE: Announcing constitution of an advisory committee to resolve demurrage and other related issues, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi said on Friday that the ships registered in Pakistan would enjoy facility of preferential berthing.

Similarly, the ships, according to him, purchased under the policy can avail exemption from customs duty, income tax and sales tax till 2030.

“Pakistani investors can purchase their own ships and hand over its management to the Pakistan National Shipping Company. But its bills would be paid in Pakistani rupees and not in dollars,” the minister said while speaking to the businessmen at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

It was the first-ever visit of Mr Zaidi to Lahore since he sworn in as maritime minister in 2018. Besides speaking at the LCCI, he also visited the office of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) where he also spoke to the textile exporters.

The minister said that Pakistan had five terminals for containers loading and unloading. “The ministry got various port charges waived but could not get approval for the removal of terminal charges,” he added.

While invited the LCCI members to visit Karachi Port Trust, Port Qasim and Gwadar to explore the emerging opportunities of new shipping policies, he said: “We will also give you great news about Gwadar Port very soon.”

LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah said there some shipping companies were continuously violating their manifest as they often offloaded containers at such ports which were not mentioned in their designated routes.

Later while speaking at Aptma Punjab office, the minister said his ministry was working on improving the efficiency of ports in a bid to make Pakistan a hub for transit trade in the region, especially in areas like cargo scanning, delivery, loading, in/out gate timings etc.

“Our new initiatives/plans in the logistics sector also include setting up of a new freight company,” he added.

He said work on the integration and connectivity between Sea Ports and Dry Ports on a real-time basis is also underway.

Aptma Chairman Abdul Rahim Nasir pointed out the issues like reluctance by port authorities to waive demurrage even after custom delay/detention certificates, reduction in container and customs dwell times to reduce costs.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2021

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