Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain need more time to introduce VAT because technically and politically they are not ready for the 5 per cent levy, which was implemented in Saudi Arabia and the UAE in January, an IMF official said.
“Technically they should be able to be ready in a year and a half,” Abdelhak Senhadji, deputy director of the fiscal affairs department at the IMF told The National. “Of course there is the issue of political will to introduce it.”
The IMF is working with the four GCC state, which are expected to introduce VAT as part of a GCC-wide agreement struck in 2016 to implement the levy across the six-member economic bloc, Mr Senhadji said.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been leaders in tax reforms, with the introduction of VAT this year and excise taxes on energy drinks, fizzy drinks and cigarettes last year. Bahrain introduced excise taxes in December.
“The fact is that [there was] political resistance in some countries [and] they were not ready technically to introduce VAT, so the UAE and Saudi put a lot of resources to get ready for the VAT while the other countries have not,” said Mr Senhadji.
The introduction of VAT in Bahrain will be suspended until a joint committee involving the cabinet and parliament agrees on a new structure to distribute aid to lower-income Bahrainis, Reuters reported last month.
The UAE Government is considering introducing new taxes in addition to the 5 per cent VAT, but has no plans to introduce income tax for the time being, the Ministry of Finance said in December.
Source – The National