Saudi VAT impact: Price hike ‘will push consumers to find ways to save money’

Updated 25 November 2017
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Saudi VAT impact: Price hike ‘will push consumers to find ways to save money’

JEDDAH: The introduction of value-added tax (VAT) next year will directly impact the prices of commodities and services, analysts said.
“The price increase will reduce the demand for goods, and this will have a negative effect on companies, most of which will likely take several measures to keep their business,” Khalid Al-Zaidi, a financial analyst, told Arab News.
He hoped the price rise would not affect the quality of goods and services. “If it happened, it is a negative indication. However, the price hike will push consumers to find ways to save money,” he said. Businesses must register for VAT by the deadline of Dec. 20, and the official introduction starts on Jan 1.
Al-Zaidi also said there would be a sharp drop in demand for luxury goods and accessories.
He anticipated that companies will be keen to improve their services at competitive prices, especially with the opening of international markets through e-commerce. He stressed that the best service-providers with the lowest costs will succeed in the market, while other businesses will fail.
Al-Zaidi, who is also the director of the Jeddah-based Al-Zaidi Financial Education Center, said that it is possible that the government will impose additional taxes on other products or increase VAT from 5 percent.
“If the results are found to be supportive to the country’s economy and helps citizens to rationalize their consumption habits, additional taxes will be implemented,” he said.
On the up side, Al-Zaidi said that once VAT is imposed on petroleum products, the country will be able to cut domestic consumption of oil products.
“This will help Saudi Arabia increase the quantity of its oil reserves and enable it to increase its export of oil to the international market,” he said.
He added that this could support its global position as an important player in the oil market. “It will also strengthen its oil pricing policy inside OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries),” he said.
Al-Zaidi anticipated that small and medium-sized companies will find it difficult to adapt to VAT, making it difficult to significantly reduce their expenses to survive.
As for imposing VAT on private education, Al-Zaidi said that investors in this sector would reduce fees to retain their market share. “Otherwise, their investment would be severely affected,” he said.
Khaldoun Khan, the owner of Al-Corniche International School and Al-Faisal International School, told Arab News that students’ guardians would be affected by the decision, and he would not increase registration fees. He said that his schools would lose some students. “Students have started to join state schools due to the decision,” he said.
Khan said that he would have another look at the profits and consider providing students with attractive offers to keep his business alive. “Unless the government reviews the decision, many school owners will choose to close their schools,” he said.
The General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT) has urged businesses with annual revenues of more than SR1 million ($266,640)  to expedite their VAT registration process and ensure their readiness for its implementation.
More than 60,000 businesses have registered for VAT since registration started on Aug. 28, 2017.
Businesses that fail to register in time will face fines of up to SR10,000 and the suspension of several critical government services, including issuing work permits, changing business activity, issuing visas, transferring workers’ sponsorship and other services provided by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Saudi Customs and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency.
The GAZT confirmed that VAT will be implemented on Jan. 1 next year, and that all eligible businesses must be ready and aware of its laws, regulations and requirements — available on the VAT website vat.gov.sa.
The GAZT first imposed a selective tax on energy drinks, cigarettes and soda drinks. It also increased the visit visa fee, exit re-entry fee and dependent fee for expatriates.


We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States help build stronger ties. (AN photo)
Updated 19 September 2018
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We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

  • We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States: US Public Affairs Counselor in KSA

RIYADH: Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States “help build stronger ties between the two countries and bring them closer together,” according to Brian Shott, the new US Public Affairs Counselor in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at a reception to welcome him at the US embassy in Riyadh on September 18, he said: “One of the main things we do is we try to share aspects of the United States and of American culture, but we also learn from Saudis and Saudi culture.” 

In her opening speech, the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Martina Strong also highlighted the enduring relationship between the two countries, saying: “Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of a friendship that has extended over many, many decades.”

Shott, who previously served in Morocco, Cairo and Baghdad, will be in Saudi Arabia for the next two years, during which he will promote educational and cultural exchanges.

“There are some real opportunities here and we have been fortunate enough to be able take advantage of partnerships with Saudi organizations and Saudi agencies, whether it is the General Authority for Culture or the Ministry of Education,” he said.

“We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States.”

Meanwhile, the reception also served as a farewell to Robin Yeager, the cultural attache in Riyadh. She said that it had been a “very dynamic time to be in Saudi Arabia. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be here at a time when I get to know first-hand the future that Saudis are trying to build.”

The night that women were were given the right to drive, she said she went out and saw the “thrill on their faces.” To assist with empowerment and other progressive policies, embassy staff work on social issues and provide leadership training for women’s groups, she said.

“It is beautiful because they take something that an American expert talks to them about and they turn it into the Saudi way to approach it,” she added. “It’s not that we are changing things; it’s that we are giving them tools, so they can build what they want to build.”