Importers decry 'unjustified fees'

SERI KEMBANGAN, Selangor: LOCAL importers are estimated to have suffered about RM500 million in unjustified new fees and increment imposed by shipping companies in the past one year.

If left unchecked, this inflationary move by shipping lines could render many import-dependent businesses to lose out in competitiveness and raise the cost of living in the country.

Yesterday, at a press conference, 13 trade groups issued a joint statement protesting against container deposit and dubious charges by shipping companies.

With about three million containers carrying goods into Port Klang annually, importers estimate that for every RM100 increment in dubious fees per container charged by shipping lines, they are collectively burdened with an additional RM200 million unnecessary costs.

"We're disappointed with the Transport Ministry and Port Klang Authority for failing to check the list of dubious charges that shipping lines are charging at Port Klang," said Malaysia Hardware Machinery & Building Materials Dealers' Association (MHMBA) president Datuk Patrick Lim Khoon Heng.

"This has been dragging on for more than a year already. We've seen new fees and unjustified charges levied on us without any value-add in service. In the last 12 months, these dubious fees have totalled between RM200 and RM300 per container, Lim said.

"We've repeatedly requested the government to review the current unfair practices by shipping lines at Port Klang," he told reporters at a press conference here.

The group consists of MHMBA, Malaysia Steel & Metal Distributors' Association, Steel Wire Association of Malaysia, Building Materials Distributors Association of Malaysia, Malaysia Mould & Die Association, Malaysia Hardware Wholesaler Association, The Electrical & Electronics Association of Malaysia, Malaysian Indian Metal Traders and Recyclers Association, Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association, Malaysia Furniture Entrepreneur Association, Machinery and Equipment Manufacturers Association, Federation of Malaysian Foundry & Engineering Industries Association and the Palm Oil Refiners Assciation of Malaysia.

"We want to highlight that it is illegal for shipping lines to withhold delivery order (DO) after consignees have paid the relevant port charges," said Lim.

"We, once again, appeal to the Transport Ministry to issue a directive to all shipping lines calling at Port Klang to abide by this basic contract law," he added.

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