Traders urge PM to withdraw SRO 350

Argue they have not been able to file monthly tax returns on time

GOHAR ALI KHAN June 30, 2024
Launched to cater to traders, keeps track of multiple portfolios. PHOTO: FILE


Karachi industrialists have appealed to the prime minister, finance minister and commerce minister to take cognizance of the emerging situation and issue immediate orders to abolish the SRO 350 for a smooth working of businesses and industries that are already going through difficult times.

They urged the government to scrap or withdraw the SRO 350 as utilities like Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), K-Electric and others were unable to file sales tax returns on time because the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had yet to address the issue. Sharing their concerns with The Express Tribune, scores of business leaders belonging to the seven industrial zones of Karachi said the matter had been raised time and again by the business community, even during their meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, when he nipped down to Karachi in April where business leaders collectively requested the PM to issue orders for the withdrawal of SRO 350.

The uncertainty and ambiguity regarding timely filing of sales tax returns along with unreasonable sales tax liabilities is really a big issue being faced by businesses and industries at an already difficult time.

SRO 350 establishes a critical link between the tax return filing by buyers and the compliance by their suppliers. This initiative triggers a concerning chain reaction, wherein non-compliance by the suppliers threatens to disrupt the entire system.

Eminent industrialist Majyd Aziz said, “This is an issue of the FBR. This is not an issue of the utilities. Legally as per SRO 350, all those registered under the sales tax regime have to submit returns or pay the additional sales tax by the end of a month. Today is June 29 and tomorrow is Sunday. Therefore, all submissions must be made by tonight.”

Until noon, a major utility had not submitted the tax return. Hence, no customers of that utility could take input and submit their returns, finding themselves between a rock and a hard place.

He urged the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other associations to take up the issue with the relevant authorities. SITE Association of Industry (SAI) President Muhammad Kamran Arbi once again demanded that the government immediately withdraw the SRO 350 because of it being an ambiguous order.

In a statement, Arbi said that two major public and private utilities, SSGC and K-Electric, had not yet been able to file their sales tax returns for the tax period May 2024 due to the SRO 350. “This has resulted in non-filing of returns by a vast majority of industries, leading to exorbitant sales tax liabilities for them.” The association requested the FBR to extend the date for filing returns for the tax period May 2024 by one week.

He pointed out that since the issuance in March 2024, the SRO 350(I)/2024 had proved to be a trouble for the business community, which had not been able to file monthly sales tax returns on time due to the unmet requirements.


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