Saudi Arabia prepares rollout of e-invoicing scheme that could address ‘shadow economy’

Saudi Arabia prepares rollout of e-invoicing scheme that could address ‘shadow economy’
E-invoicing will also support fair competition in the small to medium enterprises (SME) sector. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 September 2021

Saudi Arabia prepares rollout of e-invoicing scheme that could address ‘shadow economy’

Saudi Arabia prepares rollout of e-invoicing scheme that could address ‘shadow economy’
  • The shadow economy costs the Kingdom up to $107 billion annually

JEDDAH: The first phase of Saudi Arabia’s e-invoicing project, Fatoorah, is set to be effective in less than three months, according to Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA).

The project is seen as having major benefits for the Saudi economy, including addressing commercial concealment and the “shadow economy,” which costs the Kingdom up to SR400 billion ($107 billion) annually.

Under the new regulation, buyers and sellers will have a digitized system that allows the smooth exchange and processing of invoices, credit notes, and debit notes.

“It is expected that the project will have a tangible impact on the national economy by curtailing the shadow economy and tackling commercial concealment,” Saudi financial analyst Talat Zaki Hafiz said.

Project manager Abdullah Al-Funtukh said the e-invoicing scheme will be implemented in two phases, with the first one set to happen on Dec. 4 this year.

“The first phase entails generating and storing tax invoices and notes through compliant electronic systems containing the required tax data-fields,” he said.

The next phase will focus on integrating taxpayers into the system, allowing them to access relevant e-invoicing services, Al-Funtukh said.

“ZATCA aims to provide the taxpayers a non-technical overview of the e-invoicing (Fatoorah) and the requirements to facilitate their readiness for phase one,” he added.

The project is in line with an earlier government announcement to better regulate commercial transactions in the Kingdom, introducing strict penalties for violators.

But Hafiz said the scheme also has other benefits for businesses.

“E-invoicing also shortens payment cycles, improves accounts reconciliation, enhances compliance, and cuts the amount of physical storage space required,” he said.

It will also support fair competition in the small to medium enterprises (SME) sector.


China In-Focus — Yuan firms; Service sector expands; Q2 job confidence among lowest since 2009

China In-Focus — Yuan firms; Service sector expands; Q2 job confidence among lowest since 2009
Updated 13 sec ago

China In-Focus — Yuan firms; Service sector expands; Q2 job confidence among lowest since 2009

China In-Focus — Yuan firms; Service sector expands; Q2 job confidence among lowest since 2009

BEIJING: China’s yuan firmed slightly against the US dollar on Thursday as the manufacturing and service sectors returned to growth after coronavirus curbs were eased, but gains were capped by signs that the country’s strict “zero-Covid” strategy will remain in place.  

The onshore yuan was changing hands around 6.6960 at midday, 40 pips stronger than the previous late session close, despite China’s central bank setting a weaker midpoint rate. 

By midday break, the Shanghai Composite index rose 1.3 percent to 3,405.64 points, while the blue-chip CSI300 index gained 1.62 percent to 4,492.2 points.

Both indexes were set for their best months since July 2020, if gains hold.

China’s June service sector activity expands at faster pace: official PMI

China’s services sector activity expanded at the fastest pace in 13 months, after authorities ended a city-wide lockdown in Shanghai, an official survey showed on Thursday.

The official non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 54.7 in June — indicating the first activity expansion in four months — from 47.8 in May, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

A reading above the 50-point mark indicates expansion in activity while a reading below indicates contraction.

China’s official composite PMI which includes both manufacturing and services activity, stood at 54.1, compared with 48.4 in May.

Q2 job confidence among Chinese households lowest since 2009: PBOC survey

A Chinese index of employment confidence dived in the second quarter to its lowest since the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, a central bank survey showed on Wednesday, after tough COVID-19 curbs took a toll on the economy from April to June.

Nearly 46 percent of Chinese households think the employment situation remains “grim” in the second quarter, urban depositors surveyed by the People’s Bank of China said.

Another indicator of future expectations of employment also dropped to the worst level since 2009.

With the survey-based jobless rate in 31 big cities rising to a record of 6.9 percent in May, Premier Li Keqiang said China would strive to return the economy to a normal track and cut the jobless rate as soon as possible, state media said on Tuesday.

Faced with economic uncertainties, more than 58.3 percent of the households are inclined to save rather than spend or invest in the second quarter, up from 42.4 percent in the first quarter, the PBOC survey showed.

(With input from Reuters) 


Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum decline; North Korea may be behind $100m crypto hack

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum decline; North Korea may be behind $100m crypto hack
Updated 8 min 4 sec ago

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum decline; North Korea may be behind $100m crypto hack

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum decline; North Korea may be behind $100m crypto hack

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded lower on Thursday, falling by 1.26 percent to $20,003.20 as of 8:10 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ethereum, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,088.40, falling by 5.12 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Experts suspect North Korea behind $100 million crypto hack

Digital investigative firms have concluded that North Korean hackers are most likely responsible for an attack last week that took as much as $100 million in cryptocurrency from a US company, according to Reuters.

Cryptocurrency assets were stolen on June 23 from Horizon Bridge, a service provided by Harmony blockchain that transfers assets between blockchains.

The hackers’ activity since then suggests they may be affiliated with North Korea, which experts say is among the most prolific cyberattackers. 

The UN sanctions monitors say Pyongyang uses the stolen funds to finance its nuclear and missile programs.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Chainalysis, a blockchain firm working with Harmony to investigate the attack, said the attack pattern and high velocity of structured payments to a mixer were similar to previous attacks attributed to North Korea-linked actors.

“Preliminarily this looks like a North Korean hack based on transaction behavior,” said Nick Carlsen, a former FBI analyst who now works for TRM Labs investigating North Korea’s crypto heists.

A report released by another company, Elliptic, on Thursday indicated there are strong indications that North Korea’s Lazarus Group may be behind the theft.

“The thief is attempting to break the transaction trail back to the original theft,” the report said. “This makes it easier to cash out the funds at an exchange,” it added.

If this attack is confirmed then North Korea would account for 60 percent of total funds stolen in 2022, according to Chainalysis, totaling $1 billion in stolen funds.

South Korean officials and experts told Reuters that the recent drop in cryptocurrency values may have made it harder for North Korea to sell stolen assets.

(With inputs from Reuters)


Payroll startup Deel partners with UAE to speed up visa processes 

Payroll startup Deel partners with UAE to speed up visa processes 
Updated 46 min 37 sec ago

Payroll startup Deel partners with UAE to speed up visa processes 

Payroll startup Deel partners with UAE to speed up visa processes 

RIYADH: San Francisco-based startup Deel has partnered with the UAE government to speed up the visa process for foreign workers as the country aims to attract international talent.

The global payroll and onboarding company offers hiring and payment services for companies that are aiming to recruit international employees or contractors.

“I expect this to be a big growth generator for Deel and hopefully a big magnet for talent to the UAE,” Deel CEO Alex Bouaziz said in a statement.

The company said the strategic partnership with the UAE Office for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications will enable its built-in platform and customer base for remote work employees moving to the UAE.

Deel customers will have faster access to UAE’s Golden and Green visas that allow 10-year self-sponsored residence visas or more flexible visas for a shorter period.


Commodities Update — Gold flat; Wheat, soybean fall; Copper heads for worst quarter

Commodities Update — Gold flat; Wheat, soybean fall; Copper heads for worst quarter
Updated 30 June 2022

Commodities Update — Gold flat; Wheat, soybean fall; Copper heads for worst quarter

Commodities Update — Gold flat; Wheat, soybean fall; Copper heads for worst quarter

RIYADH: Gold was mostly quiet on Thursday, but faced its worst quarter since early 2021 as the strength of the dollar kept investors away. 

Bullion’s outlook was clouded by top central banks adopting aggressive tactics against stubborn inflation.

Spot gold was flat at $1,817.07 per ounce by 0339 GMT. US gold futures edged up 0.1 percent to $1,819.70.

Gold prices, set to drop for a third straight month, have fallen about 6.2 percent this quarter. 

Silver slightly up

Spot silver was up 0.1 percent at $20.72 per ounce, while platinum was flat at $916.66. 

Palladium gained 1.2 percent to $1,986.21. However, they were all still headed for monthly and quarterly losses.

Grains fall

Chicago corn fell on Thursday, weighed down by increased chances of rain in growing areas in the US.

Wheat and soybeans also fell.

The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board of Trade fell 0.42 percent to $6.51 a bushel.

Wheat fell 0.59 percent to $9.24-3/4 a bushel and soybeans edged down 0.02 percent to $17.48 a bushel.

Copper heads for worst quarter since March 2020

Copper prices slipped on Thursday and were set for their biggest quarterly percentage drop since March 2020, hit by worries about a potential recession following a series of interest rate hikes and a slowdown in demand due to lockdowns in top consumer China.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.4 percent at $8,371.50 a ton, as of 0437 GMT. The contract has fallen more than 19 percent so far this quarter.

The most-traded August copper contract in Shanghai was flat at $9,555.69 a ton by the midday break.

(With input from Reuters) 


Oil Updates — Crude prices fall amid build in US fuel product inventories; Ecuador’s Oriente crude exports suspended

Oil Updates — Crude prices fall amid build in US fuel product inventories; Ecuador’s Oriente crude exports suspended
Updated 30 June 2022

Oil Updates — Crude prices fall amid build in US fuel product inventories; Ecuador’s Oriente crude exports suspended

Oil Updates — Crude prices fall amid build in US fuel product inventories; Ecuador’s Oriente crude exports suspended

RIYADH: Oil prices edged lower in volatile trading on Thursday as the market weighed concerns of global supply and a build in US fuel product inventories.

Brent crude futures for September, the more actively traded contract, were down 45 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $112.00 per barrel at 0711 GMT.

The August contract, which expires Thursday, was at $115.15, down $1.11 a barrel, or 1.0 percent.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 57 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $109.21.

Ecuador’s Oriente crude exports suspended

Exports of Ecuador’s flagship Oriente crude remain suspended under a force majeure declaration as the spread of anti-government protests hurts oil output, state-run Petroecuador said on Wednesday.

At least eight people have died and road blockades have led to food and medicine shortages. The crisis has halved oil output, the country’s main source of revenue, to some 234,500 barrels per day while forcing reductions in fuel prices, though protest leaders have called the price cuts insufficient.

On Wednesday, the government imposed a curfew and restricted transit in four provinces to restore public order, control violence, secure basic supplies and protect state property, while marking oilfields and facilities as secured zones.

The energy minister said output could be completely halted in a matter of days over acts of vandalism.

Petroecuador has not yet rescheduled the suspended Oriente cargoes, it said in a release. The firm issued a wide force majeure declaration over oil exploration, production, transport and exports on June 18, and enforced the cargo suspension on June 28.

“Once the force majeure is overcome, the company will timely notify companies about operations to coordinate the cargo rescheduling,” it said.

German oil refiner to halt diesel deliveries after lightning strike

German oil refiner Bayernoil plans to halt deliveries of diesel and heating oil to customers for several days from Thursday after a lightning strike, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

Bayernoil is the largest oil refiner in Germany’s southern state of Bavaria and the incident adds to two other outages in the same region as Europe’s diesel market suffers from the loss of imports from Russia.