ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar on Saturday said the government would not impose any burden where it is not sustainable or impacts the common man in the upcoming budget 2014-2015.

He said this while chairing a meeting of the Committee constituted by Prime Minister to review the concessionary regime (SROs). In his opening remarks, the finance minister, who is the Convener of the Committee, said that the Committee in its eight meetings, held in last three months, has reviewed the Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs) with an independent and open mind and conducted an exercise in keeping with the national interest. The finance minister said that the Prime Minister’s decision to constitute the committee and include in it representatives of relevant ministries as well as stakeholders including business persons is aimed at taking all stakeholders on board so that the decisions are made with collective wisdom.

Chairman FBR gave a detailed presentation on the plan for phasing out of the SROs in 3 years timeframe. He informed that the plan encompasses principles to remove contradictions and distortions. He said that after consultations with the stakeholders the recommendations have been prepared for the committee to consider and take appropriate decision. He added that there is a general consensus that local manufacturing and exports should be encouraged and we should save money where possible on imports.

In this connection, the finance minister said that the Committee and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has worked hard to rationalize and streamline SROs and he has been himself holding several meetings. The purpose of carrying out this exercise is to remove distortions and disparities created due to the issuance of arbitrary SROs, he added. Dar said that the government will provide protection where required and will not impose any burden where it is not sustainable or impacts the common man. He added that the SROs aimed at providing relief to charitable institutions will be given protection. He informed that the whole process will take few years to be completed.

Later, Senator Ishaq Dar chaired the final session of grand consultation on budget 2014-15 with the business stakeholders at FBR Auditorium.

The finance minister, while addressing the stakeholders of the business community, said that we believe in consultation and collective wisdom. It is for this reason that we have charted out a detailed programme of sessions with chambers, traders associations, regulators, banks and professional bodies to listen to their proposals which could be incorporated in the forthcoming budget. He said that we are working on a three year budget strategy for years 2014-17 and we have a clear roadmap to achieve our targets. He added that we have almost completed an exercise in eight meetings to review concessionary regime (SROs) to provide a level playing field for the economy. He said that we have set a target of three years for phasing out discriminatory SROs. The finance minister observed that there were revolutionary ideas from the business community and we will consider serious doable proposals in the next financial year. He underlined that transparency, good governance and zero toleration for corruption are the hallmarks of PML-N government in line with the vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He added that Pakistan is our own country and we have to join hands to make improvements in the system.

Representatives of the traders associations appreciated the consultation process and observed that this is the first time in history of Pakistan that this level of consultations have been held in preparation of budget. There was a general consensus in the remarks of the trade associations that local manufacturers should be encouraged with the aim to increase value addition and export led growth. The traders emphasized on employment of measures for documentation of economy. There was also an agreement among the traders that small and medium enterprises in the country should be encouraged. The finance minister in his concluding remarks said that the process of consultation which has been initiated will not terminate with this budget but it will be a continuing process and the government will take along the business community in its agenda of reform. He added that we are making our efforts to simplify the taxation system and incentivize tax payers as compared to tax evaders.