The Bangladesh Shipping and Logistic Service Providers Forum (BSLSPF) Sunday said that the freight forwarders' licensing rules should be continued under the statutory regulatory order (SRO) of 2000.
The BSLSPF leaders demanded immediate scrapping of the newly issued SRO as they claimed that it would create impediments to run this business and raise the costs of international trades.
Addressing a press conference at the city's Dhaka Reporters' Unity (DRU) office, BSLSPF leaders said such SRO issued by the national board of revenue (NBR) will not work for the benefit of the economy.
BSLSPF leaders also said the rules in the newly issued SRO are not in conformity with international trade practices.
President of Association of Cargo Agents of Bangladesh (ACAB) Saifur Rahman told the press conference that the clauses 21 and 22 of the SRO of 2006 have given authority to the carriers to deliver the goods direct to the consignees against the shipping documents.
"Such clauses contravene all international laws concering the issuance of the bill of lading (B/L) or the airway bill", he added.
The NBR issued an SRO June 7 this year for bringing discipline in the country's freight forwarding business which are allegedly extorting indiscriminate charges from the exporters and importers. It is also alleged that foreign freight forwarders are siphoning off huge amount of money to their respective principals.
The business, especially linked with containerised cargo started in the country in late 1980s. Besides, the business is also offering services to the air cargoes.
The previous government issued an SRO in 2000 and amended in 2001 relating to the modalities and functionalities of freight forwarders and cargo agents.
Former Commerce Minister Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury took steps in bringing discipline in this business following frequent allegations for extorting huge amount of money through different charges during issuing of no objection certificates by the freight forwarders.
The former commerce minister also fixed the charge at a rate of Tk 1250 per consignment.
Under the new SRO, an applicant is required to pay a license fee of Tk 100,000.
Companies with majority foreign ownership are required to invest US$ 1.0 million and this amount will have to be kept in the country for at least 10 years.
Joint venture companies having less than 50 per cent foreign ownership will have to invest $500,000.
The new SRO also stated that entities, which are either wholly or partially owned by foreign companies, will have to give bank guarantee worth $1.0 million to the licensing authority.
Local companies have to provide a bank guarantee worth Tk 1.5 million under the new SRO.
The ACAB president Saifur Rahman read out written speech while BSLSPF chairman Rafi Omar, deputy managing director of Maersk Line M Nurul Alam, ACAB executive member Mohammed Faiz Khan, managing director of Hapag-Lloyd AG, president of International Freight Forwarders Association of Bangladesh (IFFAB) were present at the news conference.