LCCI urges govt to make customs tariff business-friendly

October 05, 2022

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry expressed its concern over the approval of import documents under customs tariff chapters 84 and 85 and urged the government to “take note of this problem”.

“A proper mechanism should be devised in order to make chapters 84-85 business-friendly,” LCCI President Kashif Anwar, Senior Vice President Chaudhry Zafar Mahmood and Vice President Adnan Khalid Butt said in a joint statement received by WealthPK.

They specifically sought the attention of the federal finance minister, the governor of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the federal commerce minister in that regard.

They said many LCCI members had contacted them regarding difficulties with imports “as a result of the State Bank of Pakistan's recently issued Exchange Policy Department (EPD) circulars number 9 and 11, which demand prior approval from the Foreign Exchange Operations Department (FEOD) before initiating transactions for imported goods (chapters 84 and 85).”

Consequently, they said, it took a long time to release shipping documents from the commercial banks, leading to delays in cargo processing at the port. So the importers had to pay demurrage and detention charges, adding to their landed costs.

The LCCI office-bearers said that the shipping lines charged container rent ranging from $80 to $150 per day, including holidays, if the cargo was not released within the 7 or 14 free days as per arrangement.

They said when the shipping lines transferred money to their head offices abroad, there was a foreign exchange loss for the nation and it raised the cost of doing business.

The SBP's current system, which included the portal procedure for approval of shipping documents, was delaying the release process of the shipping documents and resulting in additional demurrages, they said.

“We are aware that the government is experiencing a liquidity crisis due to (a) shortage of dollars caused by the exponential growth in the current account and trade deficits,” they said and recommended some action for the overall benefit of the business community.

The LCCI office-bearers said in the case of Documents Presentation, as soon as a Bill of Lading (B/L) was issued by a shipping line at the port of loading, importers should be allowed to submit their case for approval against a copy of B/L to the SBP through their banks. This would help in getting timely approval and receiving documents before the consignment arrived at the port, they added.

They said as the Letter of Credit (L/C) was backed by a guarantee from the SBP, no prior approval should be required. In case the shipping documents were received on deferred payment, Documents against Acceptance basis, the same should be released by the commercial banks without approval immediately, they added.

They said, “When the maturity time is reached if needed, approval may be applied by the bank to the SBP. An in-bonding facility should be made available to the importing companies, regardless of the approval for the consignments in order to avoid extra port and detention charges.”

The LCCI office-bearers said if the imports were not made competitive, it would pave the way for smuggling and cause huge losses to the economy. In the case of imports, customs duties and taxes were deposited into the exchequer, they added.

They said that under the current conditions, the business community supported the government and recommended that for all the pending approvals, documents be released immediately by the commercial banks.

They hoped that due consideration would be given to their proposals in the interest of the business community and to promote the ease of doing business in the country.

Credit : Independent News Pakistan-WealthPk