Saudi Arabia steps into a new era with VAT

The inspection tours will be directly supervised by the joint operation room for protection of consumers. (SPA)
Updated 01 January 2018

Saudi Arabia steps into a new era with VAT

RIYADH: It is hoped that the levying of a value-added tax (VAT) from Monday will power the Kingdom’s march toward progress and prosperity.
The tax is imposed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE within the framework of a unified agreement endorsed by the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
“The imposition of VAT will help to raise tax revenues of the Saudi government to be utilized for infrastructure and developmental works,” said Mohammed Al-Khunaizi, a member of the Shoura Council, here on Sunday, while calling VAT “a major move that will contribute to address challenges and sustain growth.” While referring to the compliance of Saudi businesses with VAT regulations, he pointed out that VAT or sales taxes are key revenue sources for more than 166 countries across the world today.
Al-Khunaizi also called for “punitive measures” to be adopted strictly for those who have not registered so far, or who violate the laws. The Ministry of Commerce and Investment has announced that in cooperation with the General Authority for Zakat and Tax (GAZT), it will intensify inspection tours in markets and commercial firms across the Kingdom to track down irregularities before
and during application of the VAT.
“The inspection tours will be directly supervised by the joint operation room for protection of consumers, which was approved by the Council of Ministers and composed of 18 government agencies,” said a ministry statement.
Asked about the preparedness of the retail sector in general, Shehim Mohammed, director of operations of a leading chain of supermarkets in Saudi Arabia, said that the retail outlets have “geared themselves well to comply with VAT regulations…”
Asked about the plan to educate customers at stores about VAT, he pointed out that bills will display VAT charges at their stores. Moreover, VAT will be a great revenue stream for the government, and it will streamline product flow in a positive manner, he observed. “It will tweak customer buying habits pragmatically, though it will force the market movement in the right direction.”
On the introduction of the VAT, Vikas Panchal, a business executive, said: “VAT is a significant milestone in the history of the GCC and is all set to be a major boost for the economy... We understand that the change will be challenging to begin with, more specifically for businesses.”

Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

Updated 19 min 57 sec ago

Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

TAIF: It is not unusual for musicians to aim for the stars, but organizers of the Crown Prince Camel Festival in Taif gave the Ukrainian concert pianist Olina Lukashu a head start.

Visitors to the opening entertainment events at King Faisal Garden were treated to the sight and sound of Lukashu performing 5 meters in the air, dressed in a long white gown that reached down to the ground.

“It was decided to put her at the entrance of the garden, all dressed in white to welcome the visitors,” festival spokesman Saleh Al-Anzi told Arab News.

“It is a new idea that was greatly enjoyed by visitors, who admired her rendition of various musical pieces.”

Among the 25 events taking place in conjunction with this year’s festival is a circus presented by five Latin American countries, Al-Anzi said. There is also a free childcare service, mobile food courts, international restaurants and a live broadcasting studio.  “Visitors will be able to ride camels inside the park, and enjoy the handicrafts on display by various artisans,” he said.

Dr. Sami bin Abdullah Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, told Arab News the Taif Season was important in terms of generating employment opportunities for young Saudis, and creating tourist projects. “All the events are full of visitors,” he said.

He said 2,000 jobs were provided during the Taif Season, and those who took up the opportunities gained skills and knowledge about the requirements of an audience.

“Saudi culture has changed, and Saudis have become more aware of global challenges and requirements, and the expectations of tourists and other consumers,” he said. “Taif Season has set a high standard.”