Over 5,000 jobs will be created in GCC with VAT introduction, tax law expert says

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will be the first GCC member states to introduce VAT, as of January 1, 2018. (Courtesy Shutterstock)
Updated 11 October 2017
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Over 5,000 jobs will be created in GCC with VAT introduction, tax law expert says

DUBAI: Around 5,000 finance and accounting jobs would be generated with the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) in the Gulf region, a tax law expert said on Wednesday.
Paul Drum, Head of Policy at CPA Australia and an expert in taxation laws, in a Dubai tax workshop said that “VAT brings good news to current finance and accounting students and graduates as this form of taxation will create ample employment opportunities.”
The Unified Agreement for VAT of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, which was signed by the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, required signatories to enact domestic legislation that would introduce a 5 percent VAT on certain transactions.
Gulf states have been looking at other ways to reduce dependency on oil revenues, as well as create new income streams to fund government services including public health services, public owned or funded schools, parks and transport infrastructure.
It is estimated that the VAT’s imposition will raise between $7 billion and $21 billion annually — or between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent of regional GDP.
The IMF has said the returns could reach around 2 percent of region’s output.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are expected to be the first Arabian Gulf countries to introduce the GCC-wide VAT on January 1, 2018, while other member states Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman have committed to implement their own VAT taxation by next year.
“The UAE will apply a VAT rate of 5 percent on taxable supplies which is very low in comparison to the average tax rate of 19 percent globally. However, not everything will be charged VAT as the law makes provision for zero rated and tax exempted goods and services to ensure that the impact of VAT on consumers is kept to a minimum,” Drum said.
Among the goods and service that would be subjected to VAT include electronics, smartphones, cars, jewelry, certain beverages, financial and accounting services, legal services, dining out and entertainment.
Certain services and goods such as nearly 100 food items, basic health services, transport and public education will be exempted from VAT.
The UAE has separately started to collect excise taxes at a rate of 100 percent on tobacco and energy drinks and 50 percent on fizzy drinks on October 1.


Fujairah joins other ports, tightens exhaust rules ahead of 2020 regulations

Updated 23 January 2019
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Fujairah joins other ports, tightens exhaust rules ahead of 2020 regulations

  • Under International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules that come into effect from 2020, ships will have to reduce the sulfur content in their fuel to less than 0.5 percent
  • Singapore, China and Fujairah marine sales volumes represent a quarter of global ship refueling, also known as bunkering

SINGAPORE: Fujairah in the UAE has become the latest major port to ban a type of fuel exhaust cleaning system to comply with a coming tightening in rules regarding global sulfur emissions, mirroring similar moves in Singapore and China.
Under International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules that come into effect from 2020, ships will have to reduce the sulfur content in their fuel to less than 0.5 percent, compared with 3.5 percent now, forcing huge changes upon global shippers and also oil refiners.
Fujairah’s harbor master said in a faxed document seen by Reuters that the port “has decided to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters ... (and) ships will have to use compliant fuel once the IMO 2020 sulfur cap comes into force.”
This follows top marine fueling port of Singapore announcing a similar move in November, while China banned the use of open-loop scrubbers from Jan. 1, 2019.
Singapore, China and Fujairah marine sales volumes represent a quarter of global ship refueling, also known as bunkering.
Impact for shippers
To comply with IMO 2020 rules, shippers can switch to burning cleaner but more expensive oil, invest in exhaust cleaning systems known as scrubbers that may allow them to still use cheaper high-sulfur fuels, or redesign vessels to run on alternatives like liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Scrubbers use water to clean up fuel emissions, preventing them from being released into the atmosphere.
Open-loop scrubbers are the cheapest option, but they have come under criticism as they wash heavy metals and sulfur from the waste water into seas instead of storing it for a controlled discharge in ports, as closed-loop scrubbers do.
Of the more than 2,000 ships that have so far opted to invest in scrubbers, around three-quarters have installed the cheaper, open-loop type, shipping sources estimated.
Closed-loop scrubbers, which store wash water for later discharge, are still accepted in most ports.
Despite the spreading bans of open-loop scrubbers, Douglas Raitt of ship classifier Lloyd’s Register said vessels can still benefit from such systems as they can pump out the waste water in open seas, outside a port’s jurisdiction.
“The benefits of open-loop scrubbers are largely realized in open water during transit from one port to the next,” he said.
Raitt said shippers, however, should consider alternative measures to prepare for IMO 2020, considering that when the new rules come into force refueling infrastructure will be mostly geared toward compliant low sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) rather than high sulfur fuel oil (HSFO).
“Prevailing wisdom would be for operators opting for scrubbers to have a meaningful dialogue with their supplier base to secure HSFO post-2020 in ports of call,” Raitt said.