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September 4, 2015

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Freight forwarders, cargo agents call off strike

KARACHI: Protesting freight forwarders and air cargo agents ended their strike on Thursday after the government agreed to resolve a tax issue within a week time.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar decided to form a committee comprising of the representatives of the Pakistan International Freight Forwarders Association (PIFFA) and Air Cargo Agents Association of Pakistan (ACAAP) and expert chartered accountants to evaluate and resolve the matter of eight percent minimum tax on service providers within one week time, an association’s statement said.
The decision was made after a meeting between the protesters and Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Tariq Bajwa and Senator Haroon Akhtar.
Senator Akhtar, who is the advisor to Prime Minister on revenue, will head the committee.
The strike was observed in protest against the eight percent turnover tax for two days (Tuesday and Wednesday), bringing external trade to halt after piling up billions of rupees worth of cargo at ports.
“We have informed our members [around 560] to resume normal business with immediate effect to clear the backlog,” said Habibullah A Latif, secretary general of PIFFA.
“The government has accepted time and again that the tax was mistakenly imposed and this should be withdrawn.”
Latif said freight forwarders, air cargo agents, and other service providers want revival of one percent adjustable turnover tax as was last year.
Other service providers, including association of security guards and Travel Agents Association supported the strike call, he added. He claimed the association's members hold some 80 percent market share and facilitate 1,500 containers/day.
Latif said if the committee fails to resolve the issue in the given time the association’s members will decide about next action. Value-added textile exporters, however, criticised freight forwarders and air cargo agents for crippling business activities.
They demanded of the government to

regulate freight forwarders and save exporters from harassment by them.
They also appealed to the government to do away with the freight forwarders and ensure that the exporters are not held hostage and left on the mercy of them.
"There should be direct contact between the exporters and the shipping companies or otherwise it is should be made mandatory for the shipping line/ airline to take the responsibility of the freight forwarders handling the cargo of exporters," the statement said.

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