France urges ‘wake-up call’ on tax for US web giants Google, Amazon and Facebook

The tax would mainly affect US companies with worldwide annual turnover above €750 million. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2018
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France urges ‘wake-up call’ on tax for US web giants Google, Amazon and Facebook

  • The tax, which Paris hopes to implement early next year, targets multinationals which declare their revenues from across the 28-member EU in a single low-tax jurisdiction
PARIS: French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called Thursday for EU leaders to heed a “wake-up call” on a plan to tax US technology giants, amid signs of growing resistance to the French-led initiative.
“I urge my European counterparts to hear the wake-up call; that they listen to what European citizens want,” Le Maire told France 2 television.
The tax, which Paris hopes to implement early next year, targets multinationals which declare their revenues from across the 28-member European Union in a single low-tax jurisdiction, depriving other countries of billions of euros in fiscal revenue.
It would mainly affect US companies with worldwide annual turnover above €750 million ($870 million), such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Airbnb and Uber.
“European citizens want justice, they want fiscal justice,” Le Maire said.
“They don’t understand why we allow companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook pay 14 percentage points less in tax than small and midsize businesses, or a European company,” he said.
The tax is expected to be high on the agenda as EU and eurozone finance ministers meet in Vienna this weekend.
But France’s proposal, which would require backing by all EU members, appears to be running into resistance.
Germany’s Bild newspaper reported Wednesday that Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who had given his backing to the plan, now believes that “demonization” of tech giants was “not efficient.”
Bild cited an internal ministry note which said that “publicly declaring that companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon should pay taxes on their revenues is not defendable.”
Yet in a press interview Thursday, Scholz denied reversing his stance, while indicating he was considering alternatives.
“There are several proposals, which all have their advantages and disadvantages,” he told the Augsburger Allgemeine.
“But it isn’t the kind of solution that just comes to you while in the shower one morning,” he said.
Asked about Berlin’s stance, Le Maire played down the reported divergences.
“The Germans have been at our side since the beginning to start taxing digital giants. I’m convinced they will support us all the way,” he said.


DP World signs solar deal with ‘green champion’ SirajPower

Updated 2 min 40 sec ago
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DP World signs solar deal with ‘green champion’ SirajPower

  • The 22-year lease agreement announced on Tuesday will see UAE-based SirajPower initially deliver 15MW-worth of panels to Jafza
  • The deal forms part of DP World’s solar program which aims to ramp up use of sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources across its facilities

LONDON: Global ports operator DP World has signed a deal with UAE-based SirajPower to install solar roof panels at its facilities in the Jebel Ali Freezone (Jafza) and National Industries Park as part the company’s efforts to reduce its energy consumption and cut costs.
The 22-year lease agreement announced on Tuesday will see UAE-based SirajPower initially deliver 15MW-worth of panels to Jafza.
The deal forms part of DP World’s solar program which aims to ramp up use of sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources across its facilities. It follows the launch of the UAE’s first green storage and warehouse facilities at Jafza in June this year, with some cool storage facilities now entirely run on solar energy while other warehouses are becoming more energy efficient.
In late 2016, DP World announced the start of the construction of the largest solar rooftop project in the Middle East, with the commissioning of 88,000 rooftop solar panels across its Dubai facilities.
“Creating a sustainable business model through the implementation of green technologies is a core focus for DP World, and one of our key initiatives is our ground-breaking solar power program that will generate enough energy to power 4,600 homes on completion,” said Mohammed Al-Muallem, CEO and managing director, DP World, UAE region.
DP World has reduced its CO2 emissions intensity by 24 percent since 2008, Muallem added, in a statement on Tuesday.
SirajPower hopes the DP World deal as a springboard for regional growth, said Laurent Longuet, the company’s CEO.
“We witnessed a rapid growth in only three years and our plan now is to expand our offering to other emirates and countries in the GCC, as well as making a foray into the residential market to truly become the regional green champion,” he said.
SirajPower said it would open a branch in Jafza to support the installation of the new units. Construction is expected to take 18 months, the company said.
In 2015, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) launched the Shams Dubai solar initiative aimed at encouraging individuals and businesses to install PV panels to generate electricity and connect them to the Dewa network. The program supports government targets for Dubai to generate 25 percent of its energy needs from solar by 2030.
SirajPower has won contracts for 50MW-worth of the solar rooftop projects implemented under the Shams program to date.