Petchems lift Saudi stock market to two-week high

Updated 04 December 2012
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Petchems lift Saudi stock market to two-week high

The key Saudi stock market index rose 0.36 percent yesterday to a two-week high, gaining for a fourth straight session since last Tuesday’s 10-month low.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) added 0.3 percent, Saudi Kayan Petrochemical climbed 0.8 percent and Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical advanced 0.6 percent.
The banking index slipped 0.23 percent. Al-Rajhi Bank added 0.4 percent, while Samba Financial Group and Bank AlJazira fell 1.1 and 1.2 percent respectively.
“I don’t expect the market to move much higher from these levels until year-end because of a lack of catalysts,” Tariq Alalaiwat, equity research analyst at NCB Capital, told Reuters.
Sahara Petrochemicals Co. advanced the most in more than a year after the board recommended its first cash dividend. The shares rose 4.4pc, the biggest increase since November 2011, to SR 13.10. The stock was the second-biggest gainer on the Tadawul All Share Index.
Elsewhere, Kuwait’s bourse rallied in late trade, with the index gaining 0.2 percent to close at a seven-week high.
Saturday’s parliamentary elections, seen to be giving a chance to a long-stalled government development plan to be implemented, boosted sentiment
“The overall consensus is very positive,” Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House, told Reuters.
“The National Portfolio Fund hasn’t begun its activities in full force yet. Many are waiting for it to do so,” which would bring good buying opportunities,” he added.
Markets in the UAE were closed for a public holiday.
Please read a related story on Page 15


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.”