Karachi, October 24, 2014 (PPI-OT): President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra has urged Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan to take notice of delays in clearance of hundreds containers carrying Wheat, Chick Peas and Pulses, causing heavy demurrage and detention losses to the importers.
In a letter issued to Sikandar Hayat Bosan, President KCCI said that they have been receiving complaints from KCCI members who import large quantities of grain, pulses and agricultural commodities but are facing serious issues in clearance of cargo due to abuse of power by the staff responsible to implement quarantine and plant protection requirements.
He said that the issues are being created by the department of Plant Protection at Port Qasim which takes illegal actions, causes harassment and imposes fines which are outside the standard prescribed procedures.
Iftikhar Vohra also expressed deep concern over 100 percent examination of all containers, which was impossible due to port congestion as the time required for such process can take weeks. He said that standard procedure is to conduct random examination by drawing the samples and sending them for laboratory testing.
President KCCI further stated that personnel of Plant Protection Department order grounding of hundreds of containers which is almost impossible whereas the concerned staff arrives very late on duty to put importers under pressure so as to force them to negotiate.
He further stated that currently 200 to 300 containers of Wheat from Ukraine and Russia have been offloaded at Port Qasim but the In-Charge has made it compulsory to conduct 100 percent examination of all containers of Wheat or any other commodities.
Despite the fact that under the directives of the government all commodities are fumigated prior to shipment as per import policy order and carried out by reputed agencies such as SGS, it is possible that some trace of harmless organism may be generated through a natural process during voyage. This is used as an excuse by the Plant Protection staff who take advantage of any minor trace and force the importers to get the entire consignment fumigated, he added.
Iftikhar Vohra said that the three agencies authorized to operate at Port Qasim for fumigation are charging Rs.3000/- to Rs.10000/- per container at their discretion which amount to millions.
In the last month alone, hundreds of containers were cleared from Port Qasim after a lot of hassle, Iftikhar Vohra recalled, adding that the behavior of the staff with major importers and traders is very negative, arrogant and insulting.
He mentioned that the import of commodities and food stuff is essential to prevent food shortages in Pakistan and to maintain an adequate supply to the markets to avoid a price escalation and public protests as well as negative media publicity.
Such irresponsible persons who are incompetent cause damage to the credibility of the government and should therefore be dealt with strict disciplinary action, he added.
President KCCI urged the Minister to direct the concerned authorities of Plant Protection department responsible for clearance of imported food commodities to clear hundreds of containers held up at Port Qasim in order to prevent further losses to importers and shortage of foodstuff in the grain markets.
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