Saudi Arabia triples VAT to counter covid impact

By Eudore R. Chand

RIYADH 12 May 2020: Saudi Arabia will increase its value-added tax (VAT), from 5 to 15 percent in July, the Finance Ministry said on Monday, as part of moves to support the economy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, reported the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, DPA.

Saudi Arabia is the only Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member country to announce such a move.

Starting in June, the Kingdom will suspend its cost of living allowance, a bonus King Salman ordered two years ago for state and military employees.

Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan said the pandemic had caused a decline in revenues, thus requiring the government to cut expenditures and introduce measures to support stability of non-oil revenues, said Wam.

The measures are painful but necessary, Al Jadaan said in a statement.

The Kingdom will also reduce allocations for some projects that are part of Vision 2030, an ambitious plan championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify the oil-reliant economy.

Saudi Arabia has reported more than 39,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the highest in the Arab world. It recorded 246 deaths.

The Gulf country has taken a string of measures since March to stem the spread of the virus, including a partial or total lockdown on different cities, suspending religious trips and halting international and domestic flights.

It has already announced measures worth 120 billion Riyals (US$32 billion) to support businesses affected by the virus outbreak. It also decreased its planned 2020 spending by five percent to reduce the impact of low oil prices.



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