The development of business and addressing reservations of the business community is the government’s top priority, said Minister of State for Ports and Shipping Chaudhry Jaffer Iqbal.
In a meeting with Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Abdul Basit, he said, “I will act as a facilitator of the business community as no country can move forward without their due role.”
He assured businessmen that port charges would be reviewed and reduced while company-to-company shipping charges would also be balanced. He conceded that lack of professionalism existed at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and a lot of improvement was needed. The situation at Port Qasim, he said, was far better, but initiatives for improvement were well under way.
“The issue of mishandling of consignments at Karachi Port will also be addressed at the earliest,” Iqbal added. The second liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal will be in working condition by November.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI president said liaison of the ministry with upcountry businessmen would help build trust and resolve issues in the shortest time.
He pointed out that port charges were adding to the cost of doing business as these were 14% higher compared to Dubai Port, 8% higher from Singapore and also higher than Indian ports.
“There is also difference between company-to-company shipping charges that is creating problems,” he said, suggesting container tariffs for all companies should be equal while the code of ethics should also be the same for shipping lines.
He said a number of LCCI members had complained that their consignments were being mishandled at Karachi Port by the authorities concerned. Modern scanners can be installed to avoid such mishandling.
The business community has to pay demurrage because of the sluggish process at dry ports. The process should be expedited and at least seven days should be given to the business community in that regard, the LCCI chief demanded.
He said official and private or commercial vessels should be treated equally for berthing at the port. He called for implementation of the container security system, adding shipping companies should also be directed to reimburse the deposited security at the earliest as a delay of two to three months caused dearth of working capital.