Shipping lines skeptical of new ICD policy

Shipping companies in Bangladesh have expressed concern over some provisions of the recently released policy for Private Inland Container Depots (ICDs), citing that some measures may lead to difficulties in carrying out operations.

The National Revenue Board (NBR) on December 19 last year published a gazette on “Private Inland Container Depots and Container Freight Stations Policy-2021”, setting guidelines for the creation and operation of private INNs.

The Bangladesh Container Shipping Association (BCSA), a group of major shipping companies working in the country, expressed concern over the new policy in a letter to the NBR released yesterday.

BCSA members include local agents and branches of many global shipping companies including Maersk Line, CMA CGM, Hapag Lloyd, Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), Cosco Shipping, Samudera Shipping Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), Ocean Network Express (A) and HMM.

In the letter, Captain AS Chowdhury, Secretary General of the BCSA, said the provision for consignees and shippers to stipulate the names of ICDs as “port of delivery” or “port of shipment” in letters of credit Bills of Exchange (LC) and Bills of Lading (BL) would have far reaching implications on the shipping process.

According to NBR policy, importers and exporters must indicate the name of an ICD in the LC or BL respectively if they intend to take delivery of imports or load export goods to ICDs.

Stating that in case of imports this would mean that the carrier’s liability would end at the ICD while for exports the carrier would start handling the containers from the ICDs, the BCSA estimated that the inland freight charges which were once merchant’s fees would turn into shipping lines. ‘ load.

This would require shipping companies to update their freight charges to and from Bangladesh and their corresponding contracts with customers, he said.

Currently, shipping companies have individual commercial contracts with their choice of ICD.

Chowdhury in the letter said the new provision would require shipping lines or mainline operators (MLOs) to have contracts with all ICDs.

This would create problems for shipping lines to reposition their empty containers according to the exporters choice of INNs, as the containers would be scattered across all the INNs for import delivery.

More importantly, to implement this provision, shipping line systems need to be updated worldwide to facilitate the selection of individual DAIs from any given place of origin from any part of the world, he said.

“Updating these systems is not an easy undertaking as it would require considerable investment and time from shipping companies,” the BCSA said in its letter.

In this context, the association urged the BNR not to impose the provision.

The association also raised concerns about how the new policy contains no details of the much-talked-about “rate committee”, allowing INN owners to set fees on their own.

The tariff committee, as stipulated in the Ministry of Shipping’s ICD policy formulated in 2016, was a means of relieving trade, he said.

Policy ICD-2016 directed that a fee committee consisting of prescribed representatives be formed to set fees for ICDs.

A shipping agent official said that in November last year, some ICD owners increased their charges by 23% due to rising diesel prices, even though there were certain items on which the price increase should not have had an impact.

The BCSA also objected to the provision prohibiting the use of INNs for handling import less than full load (LCL) containers.

Mentioning that it is common for import-export activities to exceed the storage capacity of Chittagong Port due to container delivery delays, the BCSA said arrangements should be made to handle LCL cargoes at the port. exterior of the port in order to maintain sufficient free space. inside.

The association believed that shipping companies, the most important stakeholders of DCIs, should be given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the draft policy during formulation.

As such, he urged the NBR to address and resolve these issues in the best interests of the country’s import and export business.