SRO culture have ruined the country’s economy; says Usman Zulfiqar

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DNA

ISLAMABAD, JUNE 30 – Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF), President Sahibzada Mian Usman Zulfiqar urged the government to abolished all companies specific SRO’s which was issued in last fifteen years; as Statutory Regulatory Orders (SRO) culture have ruined the country’s economy which badly effect the level playing field amongst all stake holders.

“Powerful lobbies have been given huge tax exemptions through SROs and that the whole tax system is now like an NRO for the elite class”

Talking to media men on Tuesday, he is of the view that the concessions and zero rating allowed through SROs should be routed through parliament and it should be the discretion of the latter to maintain or drop these concessions. Though SRO culture was introduced in the era of 90’s for political engineering through benefiting the individual businesses.The PBF viewed the fact remains that parliament itself lacks the moral muscle to play an effective role and, as such, has never challenged the FBR’s encroachment into its domain because it suits the interests of many of its members coming from the business class who have succeeded in this bargain by getting themselves virtually exempted from any tax on their income.

It was under the Customs Act of 1969 that parliament had delegated powers of issuing the SROs to the FBR, but since it is more than manifest now that these powers have been and are being misused, the parliament should revisit the law and, if found necessary, it should be repealed.

The SROs were meant to be an instrument for running the day-to-day affairs but, unfortunately, over the years these have assumed the status of a policy in the country. The SRO culture has, according to an estimate, caused some Rs 900 billion worth tax exemptions in the country.

President PBF also stated by definition, the use of SRO’s should be restricted to framing rules and procedures for implementing a tax law or laws. Or it can be used to remove ‘hardships’ and ambiguities — without involving new levies, exemptions, concessions and waivers.

“The practice of handing out massive financial favours in the name of tax exemptions, concessions and waivers is not restricted to one particular government or the other even in the last one year around 40 SRO’s have been issued.” he added.