MACN 1st Roundtable Meeting

Contact-free ecosystem facility must for business: KCCI president

KARACHI: Today’s fast-track global business demands that online documentation and digitization is essential for Pakistan’s private sector and that a total contact-free ecosystem must be introduced in the country. KCCI, being the representative organization of all Karachi’s trade and industry, has been advocating this system. KCCI acknowledges that a lot of progress has been made to digitize and it is high time the private sector’s time, efforts, and money are not wasted in visiting government departments and agencies”. These views were expressed by Chief Guest Muhammad Tariq Yousuf, President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry while addressing the “Global Compact Network Pakistan Roundtable Conference on Maritime Anti-Corruption Network”.

KCCI president Tariq Yousuf added that a contact-free environment would be beneficial for the private sector since it would reduce to a large extent the lack of transparency, reduce port congestion, enhance the security of data and cargo, help in the huge decrease in the elements of corruption, bribery, and red tape. It is also imperative that a structured Alternate Dispute Resolution system be activated as this would reduce filing of court cases and legal complaints. He offered full support of KCCI in the campaign to eliminate bad practices in the Maritime sector since after all 90% of Pakistan’s imports and exports are through ships.

Mathias Bak from MACN Denmark, in his virtual speech, highlighted in detail the activities of MACN and stated that MACN is a global business network working towards the vision of a maritime industry free of corruption that enables fair trade for the benefit of society. Established in 2011 by a small group of committed maritime companies, MACN has grown to include over 180 companies globally, and has become one of the pre-eminent examples of collective action to tackle corruption.

“MACN and its members work towards the elimination of all forms of maritime corruption by: raising awareness of the challenges faced, implementing the MACN Anti-Corruption Principles and co-developing and sharing best practices; collaborating with governments, non-governmental organizations, and civil society to identify and mitigate the root causes of corruption, and creating a culture of integrity within the maritime community.”

Majyd Aziz, President GCNP, in his welcome address, stated that every day vessels with cargo enter Ports and cargo cleared by Customs, and the process involves numerous stakeholders across several jurisdictions. Generally speaking, this scenario creates huge opportunities for bad practices, such as illicit payments, one of the biggest problems faced by importers and exporters as well as other port users. “It is our moral duty to challenge this, both individually and collectively, to create an impartial, safer, and brighter future for generations to come. If concerned private sector institutions and other players do not take a stand now, it would manifest their concurrence and invariable support to its ever-increasing damaging impact.”

President GCNP added that bad practices, such as corruption and bribery, is expensive and significantly adds to the cost of production and higher prices for the consumers. These also affect compliance with international anti-corruption standards. He emphasized that from an ethical standpoint, these undermine both democracy and law by directing money away from morally sound enterprises and government Treasury and into the hands of unscrupulous officials and black sheep in the private sector.

Majyd Aziz moreover enumerated steps that would help mitigate these bad practices. He said that it is imperative to implement a comprehensive anti-bribery and good governance compliance program, periodically review policies and assess effectiveness of this program, adopt a zero tolerance culture, strengthen internal controls by conducting training programs for employees, hire and appoint agents after a strict due diligence, and introduce a whistle-blower mechanism for stakeholders to inform without fear of retaliation.

The conference brought together representatives from various organizations, including FPCCI, KCCI, Customs Agents, Terminal Operators, Stevedore Conference Pakistan, All-Pakistan Custom Bonded Carrier Association, SITE Association of Industry, Karachi Customs Agents Association, and others.