Government slammed for not raising tax on cigarettes

Updated 01 June 2013
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Government slammed for not raising tax on cigarettes

The anti-smoking society, Niqaa, is blaming the Ministry of Finance for the spread of smoking in the country because of its continued refusal to increase taxes on the import of tobacco. The ministry argues that if it did so smuggling will increase.
The issue was highlighted yesterday on the World Anti-Smoking Day under the slogan "No to ads, promotion and patronage of tobacco."
“The issue of price is the responsibility of the Finance Ministry, and it always comes up with the excuse that raising the price will encourage smuggling,” Society President Mohammad Jaber Alyamani said.
“This is because smokers will not buy if it costs up to SR 40 a packet. We have raised this issue with the ministry but it still has reservation, and says this will increase smuggling.”
Mohammad Al-Quhiess, former Shoura Council member, said in interviews that there is a strong tobacco lobby in the Kingdom.
He added that the resolve to fight spread of tobacco has been made by the Shuora Council and will be implemented soon.
He said the price of cigarettes in Saudi Arabia is the lowest in the world and taxes on tobacco are very low, something which encourages youngsters and adults to start and continue smoking. In Europe and South America the price of a packet of cigarettes can be as high as SR 40 but in Saudi Arabia, its just SR 5.
He said that tobacco companies in Saudi Arabia have become audacious, distributing cigarettes on the World Anti-Smoking Day on the Al Hamara Beach in Jeddah. He stressed that everybody has to take a strong and serious stand against smoking in Saudi Arabia, especially among young people. Statistics show that there are 6 million smokers in the kingdom, of which 600,000 are women.
“The percentage of smokers in boys schools in the Kingdom is more than 12 percent, whereas the percentage the world over is decreasing.
“The issue of financial support is a major hindrance facing the society, coupled with the lack of effective laws to stop smoking in public places such as airports, where one can find officers smoking under the 'no smoking' signs.”
He said the Health Ministry is playing its role and has an anti-smoking campaign and will sign an agreement with the society to increase efforts against smoking.


Riyadh to host forum to observe World Heritage Day next year

Riyadh hosts the sixth National Urban Heritage Forum in April with its focus on investment opportunities in the urban heritage. (Reuters)
Updated 19 min 12 sec ago
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Riyadh to host forum to observe World Heritage Day next year

  • forum will encourage private investment to capitalize on the country’s rich urban heritage
  • Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage hosts the forum each year in a different part of the Kingdom

RIYADH: The Saudi capital will host the sixth National Urban Heritage Forum (NUHF) next April to coincide with World Heritage Day, with its focus on investment opportunities in urban heritage.

“The four-day National Built Heritage Forum will be launched in Riyadh on April 15,” said Majed Alshadeed, a spokesman for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), on Thursday, adding that the forum will culminate on April 18, World Heritage Day. World Heritage Day is celebrated every year on April 18 with the aim of preserving the human heritage and recognizing the efforts of the relevant organizations in the field.

Organized by SCTH under the umbrella of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Program, the 6th forum will encourage private investment to capitalize on the country’s rich urban heritage.

The forum will look at developing business models in the management and development of — and investment in — urban heritage sites, as well as the development of crafts and handicrafts.

The heritage forum is organized each year by the SCTH in a different province in collaboration with the relevant governorates, municipalities and local universities, following the recommendations of the first International Conference for Urban Heritage in the Islamic Countries, which was held in Riyadh in 2010.

The first session of the NUHF was organized in Makkah province, the second in the Eastern Province, the third in Madinah province, the fourth in Asir province and the fifth in Al-Qassim province.

Next year’s forum seeks to invest the expertise, knowledge and experience that the SCTH has gained and transfer it to the four economic sectors working in urban heritage. These sectors are construction, restoration and contracting, site operation, human resources development, and services and industries related to urban heritage.

The forum will include the distribution of prizes to the projects winning the Prince Sultan bin Salman Urban Heritage Awards, exhibitions, scientific sessions, workshops and business meetings with Saudi and international experts and consultants to discuss investment opportunities in urban heritage. There will also be a specialized expo for companies and institutions working in the sectors of the economics of architectural heritage, restoration and engineering consultancy.