Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) vice president Kashif Anwar while demanding the government to release stuck-up refund claims, has said that FBR’s software system of RCPS is very excellent which completes refund process system within one month but finance ministry’s undue interference causes blockage of refund claims to the exporters, as the Lahore Chamber’s own income tax refund claims of about Rs.30.5 million has been stuck up with the FBR for the last 10 years. He said that presently more than 80 per cent textile exporters refund of over Rs10 billion is stuck by the FBR.

Kashif Anwar said that the soaring tariffs of electricity, gas and other essential raw materials are leading to high cost of business in Pakistan further hardening the competition against competing countries. He said that refund claims amounting to billions of rupees; customs rebate claims of billions of rupees and billions of DLTL claims are held up by the government for long period of time. Regarding GSP Plus, he said that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) need to be encouraged to work more effectively and be part of value chains of larger companies while value-added sector needs to have access to raw materials on internationally competitive prices.

He said that the ongoing energy crisis had resulted in the closure of about 40 percent of industry in the Punjab province. He said that the duration of loadshedding had reached the level of 12 hours a day in urban centres while electricity was being provided to the rural areas for just a few hours. This situation is not conducive for the industrial sector in Pakistan. LCCI VP said that the energy-starved industry is not in a position to capitalize on the GSP Plus Status granted by European Union recently. Government would have to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity to the industrial sector to take benefit from the changing international scenario. He also demanded of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to withdraw SRO 608(I)/2014 as in the presence of huge smuggling and massive under invoicing it would not be possible for the government to get desired economic results.

Kashif Anwar said that at a time when the economy was passing through very critical times of its recent history because of the shortage of gas and electricity, new taxation measures like SRO 608(I) 2014 are bound to create a wrong impression about the government. He said that it was very unfortunate that instead of widening tax base and bringing the untaxed sectors into the tax net, steps are being taken to squeeze the existing tax payers.  The Vice President said that the FBR which was established with an objective to facilitate the trade and industry but it has now been turned into a money making machine and the people sitting at the helm are not only unaware of the ground realities but are least concerned about the problems and the day-to-day challenges being faced by the businessmen.

 Kashif said that at a time when both the trade and industry were looking for a relief package to run their businesses, they are being pushed to the wall by issuing SROs like SRO 608(I)/2014. He said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry understands well that a quantum jump in Tax-to-GDP ratio is in dire need but it also believes that this objective could only be achieved through facilitation of existing businesses instead of playing arm-twisting with them.