UAE tax to double tobacco, energy drink prices

UAE prices of other types of soft drinks will increase by 50 percent, Khaled Al-Bustani, director general of the newly established UAE Federal Tax Authority said. (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2017
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UAE tax to double tobacco, energy drink prices

DUBAI: Tobacco and energy drink prices are set to double in the United Arab Emirates, which is imposing steep excise taxes to help ease a budget shortfall caused by low oil prices.
Khaled Al-Bustani, director general of the newly established UAE Federal Tax Authority, said on Wednesday that the 100-percent tax would be introduced from October 1.
Prices of other types of soft drinks will increase by 50 percent, Al-Bustani told a press conference.
He declined to say how much the UAE will raise from the tax.
The decision stems from agreements reached by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to raise the prices of those products, then impose a long-awaited value-added tax (VAT) from the start of next year.
The GCC states — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — have been hit hard by a slump in oil revenues, which make up the bulk of their national income.
Saudi Arabia, which is forecast to post a large budget deficit in 2017 for the fourth year in a row, has already started imposing the excise tax, besides levying heavy residency fees for expatriates’ dependents.
The kingdom, as well as UAE and Qatar, announced it would start collecting VAT of five percent at the beginning of next year on most products and services.
Other members have not given a specific date.
The GCC states, which pump around 17 million barrels per day of crude oil, have seen their revenues plummet since the collapse of oil prices in mid-2014.


Japan, Philippines meet to advance infrastructure plans

Updated 8 min 18 sec ago
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Japan, Philippines meet to advance infrastructure plans

  • Japanese loans so far dwarf those of China, whose pledges for projects are still largely ideas
  • Duterte has made a $180 billion infrastructure overhaul the centerpiece of his economic policy agenda, but people are looking for progress

MANILA: Philippine government ministers met with a top adviser of Japan’s prime minister on Wednesday, in a effort to move forward major infrastructure projects, just hours after a visit by the Chinese president pledging to do the same.
Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte has made a $180 billion infrastructure overhaul the centerpiece of his economic policy agenda, but already into the third year of his presidency, he is under some pressure to show signs that his ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program is making much progress.
While attention has been focused largely on fanfare of Duterte’s “pivot” to China and his frequent praise for Beijing’s economic support, agreed Japanese loans so far dwarf those of China, which has pledged billions of dollars of financing and investment for projects that are still largely ideas.
Japan will finance 156.4 billion yen ($1.39 billion) for the construction of a subway in the capital Manila, rehabilitation of one of its troubled elevated rail lines, a new Manila bypass road and a new airport on Bohol, a tourist island.
The loans are part of an 1 trillion yen aid and investment package offered in 2017 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose special adviser, Hiroto Izumi, is in Manila to discuss revamping a railroad across the capital, a flood control system, and jointly operating an industrial zone, Finance assistant secretary Antonio Lambino told Reuters.
Edmund Tayao, a Manila-based political analyst, said the strong performance of the Philippine economy meant it had outgrown its infrastructure, and there was public pressure to modernize it.
“This is a long-delayed requisite,” he said. “When we speak of trains, mass transit systems, disappointment is an understatement. It is frustrating to compare it with neighbors.”
Expectations have been high since Duterte left China two years ago with $24 billion of investment and loans pledges, and there were hopes that this week’s visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first in 13 years, would have seen firm commitments for those to advance.
However, of Tuesday’s 29 agreements, the only loan agreed was $232.5 million financing for a dam. Others counted as deals included two feasibility studies, memorandums of understanding for arrangements that already existed, or a handing over of certificates.
Michael Ricafort, an economist at RCBC bank in Manila, said that with the spotlight on foreign interest in the infrastructure program, the government was keen to show progress was being made.
“The government is now put on the spot. People are looking for the promises to be fulfilled.”