Afghan transit cargo piling up at ports
All categories of Afghan transit-trade goods are currently faced with the haulage problem in the absence of a clear-cut policy of the departments concerned and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
As a result of this, a large number of containers loaded with non-commercial cargo belonging to ISAF and NATO and commercial cargo of Afghan transit business are pilling up at terminals of airport, Port Qasim and Karachi Port, claimed Pakistan International Freight Forwarders Associations’ members.
The issue of authorization of vehicles carrying transit-trade goods to Afghanistan cropped up last month when the FBR suddenly put a condition on officially designated carrier National Logistics Cell (NLC), to arrange vehicles of its own for the haulage of transit cargo.
Since the NLC has exhausted its own fleet of trucks and had only been issuing certificates to private carriers after making hefty charges the haulage of transit cargo to Afghanistan suddenly stopped, freight forwarders told Dawn.
However, the FBR in a haste on March 17 once again allowed the NLC to do the haulage of transit cargo to Afghanistan with a condition that vehicles should be customs licenced bonded carriers, lamented member Pakistan International Freight Forwarders Association (PIFFA) M Asad Iqbal Gill.
The short-sighted approach of the FBR could well be judged from the fact that this facility was allowed for a limited period of 60 days with the condition that NLC would take full responsibility about safety of goods and ensure compliance to customs formalities and procedures, he added.
In another notification issued on April 14, the FBR allowed the NLC to hire private trucks to clear the huge backlog of non-commercial container cargo from ports belonging to ISAF and NATO. This facility was also given on one-time basis and for 20 days only. The Board simultaneously directed that for the haulage of Afghan transit-cargo private carriers should register themselves with customs as “bonded” carrier.
The non-serious approach of the board could well be judged from the fact that it is not coming up with long term and transparent policy which could ensure quick haulage of Afghan transit-cargo, Mr Gill said.
There is hardly any long term policy coming up from the FBR with regard to the haulage of commercial and non-commercial Afghan transit-cargo which generates huge economic activity, starting from ports, trucking, loading, unloading and involvement of large manpower up to Pakistan-Afghan border area.
According to PIFFA estimates for the haulage of non-commercial Afghan transit-cargo alone, around 250 long haul vehicles are required daily which comes to around 7,500 vehicles per month.
The local representatives of world supplier of non-commercial cargo belonging to ISAF and NATO strongly feel that they are being given tough time and a transit trade of billions of rupees is being taken away from Pakistan by other regional countries.In the past, the NLC was having monopolistic control over the haulage business of Afghan transit-cargo and now the FBR is pushing us in the hands of bonded carriers’ mafia, observed M Asad Iqbal Gill.
He urged the secretary of finance and the chairman of FBR to intervene and resolve the issue in the national interest by ensuring open market policy for the haulage of Afghan transit-cargo.
Many regional countries are presently offering better and cheaper service towards Afghan transit-trade in order to jack up their economies and open up job opportunities, he added.
He suggested that the FBR should introduce the same system for the haulage of all categories of Afghan transit-cargoes given to US military supplies which on verification from the US consulate general Karachi is carried by private carriers.
Afghan transit cargo piling up at ports | Newspaper | DAWN.COM