ISLAMABAD  - The first meeting of the committee constituted by Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif to review the concessionary regime (SROs) was held here Tuesday at the Finance Ministry.

In his opening remarks, Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, who is the convener of the committee, said that the committee should review the Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs) with an independent and open mind and conduct an exercise in keeping with the national interest.

The finance minister said that the Prime Minister's decision to constitute this committee and include in it representatives of relevant ministries as well as stakeholders including business persons is aimed at taking all on board so that the decisions are made with collective wisdom.

The finance minister said that the tax-GDP ratio had reduced to 9% from 14.5% in 1998-99, which means a loss of revenue of over Rs.1400 billion. The finance minister recalled that in his budget speech he had made a commitment to review the entire concessionary regime. In this connection, the finance minister said, the FBR has been working 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.

The finance minister 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 therefore advised the committee to be careful while deciding the fate of SROs as many charitable institutions and non-profit organizations have been given protection.

The finance minister assured that the interest of the domestic industry would be protected so that the job market remains unaffected and remains competitive.

The finance minister expressed the hope that the committee will build on the work already carried out by FBR and come out with concrete recommendations.

It would be pertinent to mention here that the FBR has been issuing SROs on various occasions to give concessions in custom duty, income tax and sales tax.

The meeting was attended by Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Khurram Dastagir, Federal Minister for Commerce, Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Masood, Advisor to Finance Ministry Rana Asad Amin, Secretary Industries Shafqat Naghmi, Chairman FBR Tariq Bajwa and senior officials of FBR and Ministry of Commerce, representatives of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce, Karachi,

Lahore and KPK Chambers of Commerce, Secretary Board of Investment, and senior officials of the government.