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DCCI wants waiver of port container detention charges amid lockdown

Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) expressed concerns over imposing container detention charge amid the ongoing lockdown in the country.

Bangladesh is imposing container detention charge, whereas shipping lines in India, New Zealand have exempted the same for importers, DCCI said in a statement released on Saturday.

The DCCI also requested Bangladesh Bank (BB) to take cognisance of law of the land not to allow outward remittance in foreign exchange applied by the shipping lines or their agents as demurrage charge collected during the locked down period on importers violating the circular of DG.

During this challenging situation, Department of Shipping has already released a circular on April 29 directing shipping lines not to realise container detention charges, points out DCCI.

Despite the directives of the Department of Shipping, shipping lines are imposing container detention chargers, it claimed.

Considering the prevalent pandemic, the shipping liners and agents should waive container demurrage charge as well as they should abstain from imposing any new or additional charges, it further says.

The Chittagong Port Authority has the right (Port Ordinance 1976) to look into the matter and may take necessary measures against shipping lines if they breach any of their directives.

Moreover, there should be a uniform policy governing rational and logical detention charges on import and export shipment by foreign shipping lines.

In order to combat the spread of coronavirus pandemic, government has declared countrywide lockdown and announced general holiday on 26th March 2020 which will continue until 30th May 2020, subject to further extension if required.

Amid this unprecedented situation, although government is working towards smooth functioning of the seaports and to keep operational activities of the ports normal, delays in evacuation of goods from the ports have become inevitable due to the disturbance of the downstream services, it said.

In spite of the effect of coronavirus on trade, some foreign shipping lines impose excessive demurrage/container detention charges arbitrarily on importers due to absent of uniform policy of governing demurrage charges.

This unregulated container detention charges levied by the shipping lines increase the price of imported raw materials used for manufacturing export items resulting in downgrading cost competitiveness of our export-oriented sectors. It also inflates the price of imported products for local consumers.

The pertinent Licensing Rules (Gazette Notification issued by NBR on 7th June 2006) under which Shipping Line’s agents or freight forwarder are being operated clearly stipulate that they should adhere to the rules, regulations, stipulations, notices, directives issued by Concerned Authority(s) failing which their Freight Forwarder License may by suspended &/or forfeited, the DCCI noted.

It is also needed to fix a ceiling for maximum demurrage charges/container detention charges, as, sometimes; cumulative demurrage charges exceed the consignment value.

In this context, section 76 of Bangladesh Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1983 may be reinstated which would help curb imposing arbitrary fees on the importers by the shipping lines without prior consent.

Whereas, if we see the other country’s examples like India and New Zealand, they have already asked their shipping lines not to collect any detention charge from import and export shipments.

Accordingly, the shipping lines operated in India and New Zealand have been complying with the directives of their respective authorities.

The DCCI also requested private ICDs/off-dock operators to waive the empty container handling charges and export goods stuffing package charges during the lockdown period.

As businesses are suffering unprecedented crisis, Chittagong Port needs to reduce the different user charges including all types of crane charges, loading and discharging containers, stuffing and un-stuffing charges, it added.
Source: Financial Express

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