Saudi Arabia triples VAT, halts government handouts in austerity drive

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's finance minister on Monday (May 11) said the kingdom will triple its Value Added Tax (VAT) and halt monthly handout payments to citizens in new austerity measures amid a coronavirus-led economic slump.

"It has been decided the cost of living allowance will be halted from June 2020 and VAT will be raised from 5 per cent to 15 per cent from Jul 1," minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

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The measures come after Jadaan last week warned of "painful" and "drastic" steps as the government steps up emergency plans to slash spending amid the double shock of the novel coronavirus and record low oil prices.

Saudi Arabia, along with other Gulf states, imposed a 5 per cent tax on goods and services in 2018 in a bid to generate additional revenue.

The petro-state had also introduced handouts worth billions of dollars to citizens, known as the cost of living allowance, to cushion the impact of rising costs.

Jadaan has said he expected Riyadh could lose half of its oil income, which contributes about 70 per cent of public revenues, as oil prices have fallen two-thirds since the start of the year.

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He said the world's leading crude exporter would borrow close to US$60 billion this year to plug a huge budget deficit.

The International Monetary Fund in April projected that the Saudi economy would contract by 2.3 per cenRead More – Source