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

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.


Saudi female student pilot aims high with flying ambitions

Updated 19 November 2019

Saudi female student pilot aims high with flying ambitions

  • Amirah Al-Saif is among the first batch of 49 female students

DUBAI: Saudi women aiming to emulate Yasmeen Al-Maimani’s feat, the Kingdom’s first female commercial pilot, now have that opportunity as Oxford Aviation Academy has opened its doors for them to take flying lessons and earn their licenses.

One those women raring to earn her pilot wings is 19-year-old Amirah Al-Saif, who enrolled in the aviation academy to fulfill her dream of flying for the Kingdom’s national carrier Saudi Airlines (Saudia).

“They have been very supportive of us females,” Al-Saif, who hails from Riyadh, told Arab News at the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow, when asked about her experience at the academy.

Al-Saif is among the first batch of 49 female students, with six of them already in ground school, expected to receive their licenses by the start of 2021 after a grueling course that requires them to first learn English, Mathematics, Physics and other basic knowledge subjects.

She is also the first in the family to have an interest in the aviation industry.

Student pilot Amirah Al-Saif, right, who hails from Riyadh, is the first in the family to have an interest in the aviation industry. (Supplied)

Those who pass the foundation program can then move on to ground school for practical lessons and ideally graduate in two years with three licenses: the Private Pilot License, Instrument Rating and Commercial Pilot License.

Al-Saif considers herself lucky since she was not constrained take courses abroad for her pilot training, unlike Al-Maimani who had to leave the Kingdom to receive her license, as well as wait for a long time before being eventually hired by Nesma Airlines.

The flying school is located at the King Fahd International Airport in Dammam and is an authorized branch of Oxford Aviation Academy based in the UK.

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