Saudi Arabia imposed tax on e-cigarettes, soft drinks

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Saudi Arabia has imposed a special tax on electronic cigarettes and sugary drinks, extending similar taxes introduced in 2017 as it seeks to reduce a budget deficit caused by low oil prices.

The General Authority of Zakat and Tax said a 100 per cent tax would be levied on electronic cigarettes and products used in them, and a 50 per cent tax on sugared drinks.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, already had a 100 per cent tax on cigarettes and tobacco products, a 100 per cent tax on energy drinks and a 50 per cent one on fizzy drinks.

The authority took the decision on May 15 and it became effective from Saturday after publication in the official gazette.

The taxes fall under the category of selective taxes on products deemed harmful to public health.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, introduced a five per cent value-added tax (VAT) in January 2018 to improve non-oil revenue generation after a plunge in oil prices from mid-2014 bruised its revenues.

The IMF on Thursday said the VAT introduction had been successful, but that the Saudi government should consider raising the rate, which is low by global standards.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia on Sunday said that it had deposited 250 million dollars in the Central Bank of Sudan, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The deposit is part of a joint Saudi-United Arab Emirates 3-billion-dollar aid package to Sudan announced in April.

It was agreed that 500 million dollars would be provided by the two countries as a deposit in the Central Bank of Sudan to strengthen its financial position, alleviate pressure on the Sudanese pound and help stabilise the exchange rate.

The remaining amount will be allocated to meet the urgent needs of the Sudanese people, including food, medicines and oil derivatives.

Saudi Minister of Finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan also confirmed that the deposit was part of Saudi Arabia’s support to the Sudanese people.

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