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Perishables worth $5.5mn stuck at Karachi port 'owing to dollar shortage'

  • PFVA says 417 containers carrying vegetables i.e. onion, ginger and garlic worth approximately $5.5 million are stuck at the port
Published December 6, 2022

An ongoing liquidity crunch took its toll on fruits and vegetables as hundreds of containers carrying perishable food items remained stuck at Karachi port owing to "non-availability of foreign exchange as per commercial banks".

The development was shared by the All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA) on Tuesday, which warned that prices of vegetables are expected to hike owing to clearance delays.

In a letter, a copy of which is available with Business Recorder, the trade association informed the Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday that 417 containers carrying vegetables i.e. onion, ginger and garlic worth approximately $5.5 million or Rs1.23 billion were stuck at various terminals of Karachi sea port owing to non-availability of foreign exchange as per statement of commercial banks.

The development comes as Pakistan faces a growing liquidity shortage with foreign exchange reserves continuing to fall, and currently hovering at $13.37 billion level. According to the weekly report, foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) clocked in at $7.5 billion.

“We should like to submit that the containers of onion are still held up at the various terminals of Karachi seaport since the commercial banks are not releasing the documents due to non-availability of foreign exchange as per the statement of the banks," read the letter dated December 6, 2022.

Around 250 containers of onion approximately worth $2.1 million, 63 containers of ginger approximately worth $816,480 and 104 containers of garlic approximately worth $2.533 million have been stuck at the port, informed the association.

The PFVA said that this inordinate delay in timely clearance would lead to a multiplication of the cost through terminal and shipping charges with each passing day.

Pakistan's CPI-based inflation in November clocks in at 23.8%

“The high cost of onion containers would have a serious negative impact on common people, taking onions out of their reach due to high price and hence, the Government of Pakistan's sincere initiative to provide relief to the common men would be jeopardized,” read the letter.

The PFVA shared that onion is currently available at a wholesale rate of Rs175 per kilogram and retail price of Rs250 to 270 per kilogram. However, due to further delay in clearance, “these rates are anticipated to shoot up".

Days ago, the SBP suspended the direct carrier billing (DCB) mechanism, blocking payment of millions of dollars, which was to be routed through telecom companies to international service providers, to Google and Apple.

The DCB is an online mobile payment method that allows users to make purchases by charging payments to their mobile phone carrier bill.

SBP engaged with industry to resolve Google payments issue: spokesperson

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