KARACHI /lahore - The business community of Karachi has deep concern over the recent controversial SROs issued unilaterally by the Federal Board of Revenue keeping the genuine stakeholders (Chambers/ All Pakistan Associations) in isolation and taking on board only few non-representatives with whom FBR officials met at their homes at luncheon meetings and made decisions.

This was stated by Muhammad Haroon Agar, President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) during meeting with Muhammad Raza Baqir, Member Inland Revenue – Operation, Federal Board of Revenue at KCCI.

He said the business community has rejected controversial SROs Nos. 212(I)/2013, SRO 154(I)/2013 & SRO 98(I)/2013 and strongly believe that FBR may have some ulterior motives behind such anti-business move which like in the past will increase fraudulent business practices providing an opportunity to the unscrupulous elements to enjoy edge over the genuine businesspersons.

FBR has recently issued SRO 179(I)/2013 to provide amnesty to such fraudulent elements allowing them to pay just 2 percent sales tax instead of 5 percent as levied under SRO 1125(I)/2011. This premier and largest Chamber which represents the business and industrial community of Karachi which generates 68 percent revenue for the national exchequer has already brought to the notice of Chairman FBR through various letters.

The discriminatory SROs being issued one after another tantamount to adding up further to the sufferings and multiple threats already faced by the business community.

He asserted to rescind the aforementioned SROs and immediately consult all the concerned stakeholders in this regard. Sweeping changes in taxation policy and rules through number aforementioned and other SROs have caused a negative impact on business and industrial activities due to higher rates of sales tax and assigning the role of with-holding agent to exporters, importers, suppliers and processors. He demanded that all SROs and changes made in rates of Sales Tax, Income Tax and rules introduced after 31st December, 2012 must be held in abeyance and their implementation should be deferred until consultations are held with all stakeholders, chambers and trade bodies.

Muhammad Raza Baqir, Member Inland Revenue – Operation, Federal Board of Revenue speaking on the occasion apprised that FBR cannot ignore Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and look forward to the KCCI’s proposals on SROs recently issued for consideration and necessary changes in the forthcoming budget.

Meanwhile,  the whole of industry of Sialkot has decided to launch a protest drive against SROs 98, 140 and 154, terming them unrealistic, unjustified and urged the Federal Board of Revenue to immediately withdraw the said SROs.

In a strong worded statement issued here, PRGMEA chief coordinator Ijza Khokhar said that the Federal Board of Revenue must avoid issuing any such SRO without due consultation of Chambers of Commerce in the country. He said that a large number of export-oriented industries are located in Sialkot, which have unanimously decided to resist these anti-export SROs.

He said the whole industry of Sialkot, including Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association, Pakistan Gloves Manufacturers Association and Pakistan Surgical Instrument Manufacturers and Exporters Association will launch a protest and later will hold a press conference.

Ijaz Khokhar said that the Federal Board of Revenue is shifting its burden of monitoring and tracking of the tax system on business community which is unjust and unethical.

If the FBR was interested in broadening of tax net, it must bring the agriculture sector into the tax net instead of creating troubles for the registered persons who were already doing businesses in the presence of multiple internal and external challenges.

He said that it is very difficult to understand that why the people sitting at helm of affairs at the Federal Board of Revenue do not consult the industry in the country before issuing SROs or formulating business related policies. He urged the FBR to help withdraw all anti-industry SROs as if such changes will be brought in the returns then coupled with the prevailing worst economic conditions business community will have no other option but to stop their businesses.

He blamed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) anti-business policies for sharp decline in economic activities.

He said that a considerable decline of $ 1.5 billion in the exports in comparison with February 2012 is very alarming and the government should stop the Federal Board of Revenue from announcing anti-business policies. He feared further widening of trade deficit, if the FBR continues to issue various ant-industry SROs without due consultation of the stakeholders.

He said that deteriorating law and order situation in parts of the country and an acute shortage of gas and electricity had already affected the investment scenario badly and there is a dire need for incentives for the trade and industry.

He said that despite repeated demands of the business community, the FBR has yet not withdrawn the SROs it has issued in the recent past. He said that despite assurance by the Finance Minister SRO 154 was not being withdrawn and forcing value added textile industry to observe strike.