Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sigh of relief for EXIM traders as Chennai Trade Recovery goes

By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on Feb 15, 2012:

CHENNAI: Hundreds of EXIM traders using the Chennai Port for export and import of various goods through containers will be heaving a sigh of relief from Wednesday as the illegal collection of ‘Chennai Trade Recovery’ (CTR) surcharge would be withdrawn with effect from February 15.
At a marathon meeting organised by the Chief Commissioner of Customs, Chennai Zone, on Tuesday with all the stakeholders after the Madras High Court’s direction, a representative of the Chennai and Ennore Steamer Agents Association (CHENSAA) made the official announcement that the collection of CTR surcharge would be withdrawn from Wednesday morning.
Sources in the EXIM trade estimated that the shipping liners, under the guise of collecting trade recovery (from the Port users) could have collected about Rs 1,000 crore in the last six months alone.
According to trade sources, different shipping liners first imposed the surcharge from August 15 last year with a starting charge of about 65 USD per container. In the last six months, the surcharge, which was imposed citing congestion and poor evacuation mode inside the port, peaked to $200 per container. With the traders complaining that the collection of CTR was unjustified, the Chennai Port Trust management took up the issue with the Shipping Ministry.
Though the ChPT management termed the CTR collection illegal and even sent notices to a few shipping companies seeking explanation, shipping liners were reluctant and continued their collection spree.
With the shipping liners failing to withdraw CTR despite appeals, Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan, in November last, took up the issue with the Commerce Ministry and promised the EXIM traders a solution.  On the other hand, a group of traders went to the HC seeking remedy to numerous problems (including CTR) they were facing in the Port. Based on the HC’s direction, the Chief Commissioner of Customs on Tuesday, organised the meet, which ended the problem.

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