KARACHI - Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) has organised a convention of all major chambers and trade associations to discuss and formulate a joint strategy for resolution of issues faced by traders and industrialists across the country.

During the meeting, representatives of chambers and associations expressed their suggestions for formulation of the joint strategy to counter ‘arbitrary and unilateral approach’ of FBR officials, policy-makers and Ministry of Finance. After due deliberations, participants of the convention have agreed that all the chambers and trade associations, signatory to this communiqué, will not submit any proposals or recommendations for the Federal Budget for the fiscal year 2017-2018. It was decided that the Ministry of Finance and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) are hereby urged to first implement Budgetary Proposals which were submitted by the participant chambers and associations during the last four financial years since these were entirely ignored and disregarded. Therefore, the submission of any new proposals would be an exercise in futility, they maintained.

The participants urged the Ministry of Finance and FBR to withdraw the ‘draconian’ provisions and laws giving immense discretionary powers to the officers of Inland Revenue, adding that it is a core issue and resulting in loss of productivity and mental torture to the business community.

These laws have kept a large number of potential tax-payers out of the tax regime, they added. In fact these laws are a deterrent to broadening of tax-base and resulted in promoting the culture of tax-evasion, the communiqué said.

It was agreed that all chambers and associations who had given their input and taken part in the proceedings of Tax Reforms Commission formed by the government with the commitment that its recommendations will be implemented in letter and spirit, have expressed their dismay and disappointment over the failure to adopt the recommendations on which a complete and total consensus was evolved among stakeholders, government functionaries, FBR officials and tax professionals. The commitment to implement these recommendations should be fulfilled immediately, they demanded.

The Chambers and trade bodies further suggested that no changes should be made in tax laws including Income Tax Ordinance 2001, Sales Tax Act 1990, Customs Act 1969 and Federal Excise Act, through the Finance Bills. Finance Bill should be confined to the budgetary and fiscal measures only. Any changes in the tax laws and provisions should be tabled through separate Bills in the parliament and passed after necessary debate and consultation with stakeholders, they suggested.

All Chambers and trade bodies strongly denounced the misuse of discretionary powers by the officers of IR under Sections 38A, 38B, 40A, 40B, 176 and 177. “We also urge the government to withdraw these sections immediately and restrict the enforcement of the said sections. Otherwise the government will be responsible for the consequences which may force us to go to any humanly possible means and actions which may have negative ramifications for the revenue,” the communiqué said.

In case these demands are not accepted by the authorities concerned, the participant chambers and associations will resort to all possible lines of action within their rights including remedy from competent courts of law to have their legitimate demands accepted to withdraw the discretionary powers of the FBR and officers of Inland Revenue, they warned. As many as 32 representatives of chambers and trade associations from all over Pakistan participated in the convention.