Visitors lift Emaar Malls profit

The aquarium at Dubai Mall. The mall is the company’s flagship development and welcomed 80 million visitors in 2017 for the fourth consecutive year. (Reuters)
Updated 14 February 2018
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Visitors lift Emaar Malls profit

LONDON: Emaar Malls has recorded an 11 percent increase in its 2017 full-year profits compared to the previous year, on the back of rising visitor numbers to its Dubai shopping centers.
Total net profit reached 2.08 billion dirhams ($566 million), compared to 1.874 billion dirhams in 2016, according to a company filing.
A total of 130 million shoppers visited Emaar’s retail centers in 2017, marking a 4 percent increase on visitor turnout from the year before. Dubai Mall, the company’s flagship development, welcomed 80 million visitors in 2017 for the fourth consecutive year.
“The sustained growth of Emaar Malls highlights the robust performance of our nation’s retail sector, a key contributor to the gross domestic product,” said Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties and board member of Emaar Malls, in a statement.
Emaar Malls’ revenue reached 3.63 billion dirhams in 2017, a 12 percent increase on the previous year.
Emaar Malls said it was pushing forward with its expansion plans, confirming that work on the new Dubai Hills Mall has started and the development is scheduled to open in late 2019. The shopping center is expected to have more than 750 retail outlets.
The company said work has begun on the expansion of Dubai Mall’s Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard. It is also developing a new retail center in the Springs Village. Both developments are due to open this year.
Emaar Malls has expanded online as well, completing the acquisition of the web-based fashion retailer Namshi last year.


Jordanian cabinet approves new IMF-guided tax law to boost finances

Updated 21 May 2018
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Jordanian cabinet approves new IMF-guided tax law to boost finances

AMMAN: Jordan’s cabinet on Monday approved major IMF-guided proposals that aim to double the income tax base, as a key part of reforms to boost the finances of a debt-burdened economy hit by regional conflict.
“When only 4 percent of Jordanians pay (personal) income tax, this may not be the right thing,” Finance Minister Omar Malhas said in remarks after the cabinet meeting, adding the goal was to push that to eight percent. The draft legislation was submitted to parliament.
The IMF’s three-year Extended Fund Facility program aims to generate more state revenue to gradually bring down public debt to 77 percent of GDP in 2021, from a record 95 percent.
A few months ago Jordan raised levies on hundreds of food and consumer items by unifying general sales tax (GST) to 16 percent — removing exemptions on many basic goods.
In January subsidies on bread were ended, doubling some prices in a country with rising unemployment and poverty among its eight million people.
The income tax move and the GST reforms will bring an estimated 840 million dinars ($1.2 billion) in extra annual tax revenue that will help reduce chronic budget shortfalls normally covered by foreign aid, officials say.
Corporate income tax on banks, financial institutions and insurance companies will be pushed to 40 percent from 30 percent. Taxes on Jordan’s phosphate and potash mining industry will be raised to 30 percent from 24.
The government argues the reforms will reduce social disparities by progressively taxing high earners while leaving low-paid public sector employees largely untouched.
“This is a fair tax law not an unfair one,” said Malhas, who shrugged off criticism the law is lenient on many businesses connected to politicians whose transactions are not subject to tax scrutiny.
Husam Abu Ali, the head of the Income and Sales Tax Department, said a proposed IMF-recommended Financial Crime Investigations Unit will stiffen penalties for tax evaders. Critics say it will not tackle pervasive corruption in state institutions.
Abu Ali said the government could be losing hundreds of millions of dollars through tax evasion, which is as high as 80 percent in some companies.
The amendments lower the income tax threshold and raise tax rates. Unions said the government was caving in to IMF demands and squeezing more from the same taxpayers.
“It is penalizing a group that has long paid what it owes the state,” the unions syndicate said in a statement.
“It imposes injustice on employees whose salaries have barely coped with price hikes rising madly in recent years.”