In response to deep concerns expressed by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping, Kamran Michael Tuesday announced to revoke a committee formed recently to review and give recommendations on ports and shipping matters.

Speaking at a meeting during his visit to KCCI, Kamran Michael said that a new committee will soon be formed in consultation with Karachi Chamber which will also comprise of those representatives who will be nominated by KCCI office bearers so that issues pertaining to Ports and Shipping could be thoroughly discussed and accordingly resolved with a view to minimize grievances being faced by traders in dealing with ports and customs authorities.

Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, Vice Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, President KCCI Younus Muhammad Bashir, Senior Vice President KCCI Zia Ahmed Khan, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Naeem Sharif, Former Presidents KCCI AQ Khalil & Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra, KCCI representative on Board of Trustees of Karachi Port Trust Dr. Qazi Ahmed Kamal and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present at the meeting.

After listening to the grievances being faced by business community in dealing with port authorities and shipping lines, the Minister said that they were striving hard to minimize these grievances and many facilities have already been introduced yet lot more still needs to be done. “Ports and shipping operations cannot be improved overnight as it was a time taking process but we are trying our best to improve facilities at various ports in Karachi”, he added.

Commenting on concerns expressed by President KCCI over delays in approval of Logistic Service Providers Regulatory Authority Bills (LSPRA Bill), the Minister assured to get in touch with the concerned ministries including the Commerce and Finance Ministries so that this Bill could be presented at the Cabinet meeting for approval.

Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli expressed deep concern over formation of a biased Committee by Ministry of Ports and Shipping comprising representatives of FPCCI only. He urged the Minister to immediately to revoke this committee while a new committee should be formed comprising of actual representatives of the Karachi Chamber who have been officially nominated.

Referring to KCCI’s representation at the Board of Trustees of Karachi Port Trust, Siraj Teli asked the Minister to incorporate similar representatives of Karachi Chamber on the Boards of Port Qasim Authority and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation as KCCI has been directly dealing with ports and shipping related matters being faced by its members on day-to-day basis.

Underscoring the need to enhance Karachi city’s share according to its contribution, Siraj Teli said that Karachi continues to contribute more than 65 percent revenue to the national exchequer, not just because of being a Port city but Karachiites have been contributing to the national kitty under various heads. “Many people say Karachi is mini Pakistan but I strongly believe Karachi is Pakistan yet it is not receiving its due share according to its contribution to the national exchequer”, he added. Vice Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala stressed the need to develop the infrastructure for efficiently dealing with growing container traffic, besides ensuring sufficient space and availability of sniffer dogs at the ports for speedy container examination.

President KCCI Younus Muhammad Bashir expressed concerns over high sea port charges in Pakistan which discourage cost efficient shipping lines from taking cargo to and from Pakistan, resulting in a demand/ supply gap and higher transportation costs for the trader. “Karachi’s two ports have charges which are estimated to be three times that of Sri Lanka’s, and seven times that of Singapore. Such problems should be addressed at the earliest, if we want to see Pakistan rapidly become a hub of regional trade”, he added.

He said that the business community faces inconsistency in the charges of shipping companies, thus making costing and forecasting difficult for businessmen. There should be some sort of harmonization in such charges, which allow a level playing field for all traders, he advised, adding that KCCI, along with PNSC, can play a role in establishment of a single regulatory authority which would help combating such tariff issues besides other major problems faced by the ports and shipping agents.

Underscoring the need to devise legislation for safeguarding the rights of traders, he urged the Minister to strive for approval of Logistics Service Providers Regulatory Authority Bill (LSPRA Bill), which has not been passed since 2013.