Ports & Shipping Ministry bills: Cabinet may approve three drafts today

The Cabinet is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, and is likely to approve three revised drafts of bills proposed by Ports and Shipping Ministry including ‘Carriage of goods by sea’, ‘Sea Carriage Shipping Documents’, and ‘Gwadar Port Authority’s (GPA) structure’, sources told Business Recorder here on Monday.
The present legislation of Pakistan on carriage of goods by sea dates back to 1925 and needs to be modernised in keeping with the modern shipping practices and international convention in force at present, sources said. The bills for ‘Carriage of Goods by Sea’ and ‘Sea Carriage Shipping Documents’ were approved by the Cabinet in its meeting on April 12, 2006 and, by National Assembly standing committee on ports and shipping on April 17, 2007.
The standing committee on ports and shipping had submitted its report along with the bills to the National Assembly Secretariat for placing before the National Assembly, but prior to taking up the matter, the Assembly was dissolved. The revised drafts of the bills require approval of the new Cabinet.
To enforce liability of the ocean carriers for loss or damage of goods, the Hague Rules were adopted through an International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to the bills of lading held at Brussels in 1924. These rules were drawn to impose upon the ocean carriers the duty of carrying goods with care and providing a seaworthy vessel at the commencement of the voyage.
The Hague Rules were incorporated in the legislation of British India through the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1925.This Act was inherited by Pakistan and is presently being implemented in Pakistan in case of carriage of goods by sea. According to sources, under revised ‘Gwadar Port Authority’ (GPA) structure, the Chairman and members of the Board are proposed to be replaced with non-executive professionals, aiming at placing skilled people at the helm.
The Authority’s revised bill for new corporate structure of the port was pending till a thorough examination is completed by a committee which comprised of Ministers for Ports and Shipping, Finance, Law and Justice, one Minister from Balochistan and Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission.
According to sources, the ‘Carriage of Goods by Sea’ and ‘Sea Carriage Shipping Documents’, were initiated by Ministry of Commerce under National Trade and Transport Facilitation project funded by the World Bank. In 2001-02, the Ministry of Commerce, while implementing a World Bank-funded Trade and Transport Facilitation project to update the trade regime of Pakistan, established a National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2009