Karachi Chamber Calls for Immediate Suspension of SRO 350

Karachi Chamber Calls for Immediate Suspension of SRO 350

Karachi, April 21, 2024 – The Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has issued a strong demand for the suspension of Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) 350, citing unresolved concerns and widespread discontent among the business community.

KCCI President Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh voiced the collective apprehensions on Monday, urging the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to postpone the implementation of the contentious order until further consultations are conducted.

SRO 350, recently introduced by the FBR, has stirred significant controversy due to its perceived implications on business operations across various sectors. The specifics of the order, which involve changes in tax regulations and compliance procedures, have not been disclosed in detail but are believed to potentially increase the regulatory burden on businesses already grappling with economic challenges.

In his statement, Sheikh highlighted that the KCCI had organized a crucial meeting with key FBR officials, including Member (Inland Revenue Operations) Badshah Khan Wazir and Chief IR Operation Arshad Nawaz Cheema, scheduled for Tuesday, April 23, 2024. The aim was to facilitate a detailed discussion on the impacts of SRO 350 and address the business community’s concerns directly with the policymakers. However, the meeting was unexpectedly postponed due to the public holiday declared in honor of the visit by President Ibrahim Raisi of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Karachi.

The postponement has added to the frustrations of the business community, which feels sidelined in the decision-making process regarding policies that directly affect their operational landscape. “It is imperative that such significant regulatory changes are not implemented in haste without adequate engagement with the stakeholders it impacts the most,” Sheikh argued. “The deferment of our meeting should not mean a deferment of justice for the business community. We urge the FBR to suspend the implementation of SRO 350 until a proper consensus is reached.”

The call for suspension by the KCCI reflects a broader sentiment among business leaders that recent tax reforms have been overly burdensome and not sufficiently transparent. Many argue that these regulations could stifle business growth and further complicate the economic recovery process in a post-pandemic environment.

The business community in Karachi, which is a critical hub for Pakistan’s economic activity, has expressed that the lack of clarity and consultation over SRO 350 has left many businesses in a state of uncertainty. This uncertainty, according to Sheikh, is counterproductive at a time when the country is striving to boost economic activities and attract foreign investments.

Moreover, the KCCI’s demand emphasizes the need for a balanced approach to regulatory changes, one that fosters economic growth while ensuring fair taxation. The chamber proposes that any changes in tax policy should be made with comprehensive dialogue between the government and the private sector, ensuring that both the economic impact and the administrative feasibility are thoroughly evaluated.

As the situation develops, all eyes will be on the FBR’s response to the demands of Karachi’s business sector. The KCCI has made it clear that it stands ready to collaborate with tax authorities to develop more favorable and effective tax policies, but not without full involvement and consideration of the business community’s insights and experiences.

The postponement of the implementation of SRO 350, as demanded by KCCI, is now seen not only as a measure of regulatory prudence but as an essential step towards ensuring the stability and health of Pakistan’s economic future.