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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Border trade: CICCI to pay new tariffs 'under protest'

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, October 19, 2013
First Published: 20:05 IST(19/10/2013) | Last Updated: 20:07 IST(19/10/2013)

The Confederation of International Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CICCI) on Saturday unanimously decided to pay enhanced storage and weighment charges to Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) through its custodian, the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) Attari, applicable from October 1 onwards, "under protest".

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The members of the chamber expressed resentment at the CWC management's denial to acknowledge that they had received their protest letters when they visited the port, and decided to send their letters through registered post.

Pardeep Sehgal, a senior functionary of the chamber, said that as a public undertaking, port officials had no right to reject their representation.

"It is the democratic right of the traders to register their protest, which they did in an orderly manner," he added.

Upset over the move, gypsum importers have urged their suppliers not to send any more material till complete withdrawal of enhanced tariff.

The LPAI's allegedly arbitrary decision to increase storage charges from October 1 has led to serious dislocation of import trade, with traders boycotting certain imports for the past three weeks.

While traders have sent several letters to the port authorities, chamber members have warned that the authorities' stubborn attitude may force traders to completely stop trading at the ICP in the next few days.

Even as the chamber members have urged the home ministry through its secretary, border management, to intervene and prevent the first land port in the country from shutting down, gypsum, cement and dry date importers and other traders have written to the port authorities to compensate them for the heavy losses suffered due damage to material by rain, as it was unloaded in the open grounds without protection.

The chamber has been voicing concern over the lack of basic facilities like cemented platforms, adequate number of godowns and storage space over the past 18 months, but to no avail.

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