PR bows to demands of customs agents | Pakistan Today

PR bows to demands of customs agents

LAHORE – Surrendering to the demands of customs agents, Pakistan Railways (PR) has withdrawn a major portion of recently increased service charges at the Lahore Dry Port (LDP). Customs agents have ended a strike which lasted for three days. A meeting was held between representatives of the Lahore Customs Agents Association (LCAA) and Pakistan Railways Authorities at Railways Headquarters in which Railways had accepted the demands put forward by customs agents and withdrew 15 percent of recently raised service charges.
The previous decision had entailed that service fees would be increased by 20 percent overall. LCCA Chairman Muhammad Amjad Chaudhry said that operations at LDP were suspended for three days with around 300 containers being stuck due to the industrial action. He said that on average, Railways earned Rs 30,000 per container on account of service charges including port surcharges, demurrage charges, crane handling, weighbridge, gate entry fee and other charges.
Railways apparently incurred an estimated loss of Rs 9.0 million during the last three days due to the uncompromising stance of the authorities, he underlined. He said PR had increased its LDP service charges by 20 percent recently and after its withdrawal, the business community still had to pay five percent high service charges. He disclosed that Railways had assured that it would review its service fees policy during the current month and would hopefully withdraw the remaining five percent during the current month.
Amjad Chaudhry, who also holds a weighbridge contract at LDP, said it was interesting that PR would get a nominal share from raising service charges, but had lost a substantial share of revenue due to the strike of customs agents. Citing the example of weighbridge fee, he disclosed that Railways had only an eight percent share in weighbridge charges.
Earlier, LDP weighbridge charges were Rs 300 per truck; the Railways recently increased this fee by 20 percent, which means that businessmen had to pay an extra Rs 60 per truck while the Railways share was slightly increased by Rs 4.0. However, now after the reduction in service charges rates have become slightly more competitive, he added. Responding to a query, Amjad Chaudhry said that around 70 percent of the country’s international trade was related to the Punjab, but due to a non-conducive environment and anti-business policies at LDP, the business community was forced to release shipments in Karachi.
He said upcountry dry ports were being underutilised while seaports were overburdened. He suggested that the Punjab government take up the issue with the federal government as it would help the province in increasing its revenue share under National Finance Commission award.

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