Philippine tobacco giant pays $586 million to settle tax case

The Philippine government had accused Mighty Corp. of using counterfeit tax stamps to avoid paying 37.88 billion pesos in taxes, and threatened it with criminal charges. (Reuters)
Updated 06 October 2017

Philippine tobacco giant pays $586 million to settle tax case

MANILA: The Philippines said Friday it has dropped a tax evasion case against the country’s number-two cigarette manufacturer after it was sold to Japan Tobacco to raise funds for a record 30 billion-peso (SR220.8 million) settlement.
Manila had accused Mighty Corp. of using counterfeit tax stamps to avoid paying 37.88 billion pesos in taxes, and threatened it with criminal charges.
However in July, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the finance department to accept a settlement, under which Mighty, which has 23 percent of the local cigarette market, would drop out of the tobacco business.
“We could consider this case as closed. (The) government of the Philippines is 40 billion pesos richer,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre told reporters.
The company settled the case with a 30-billion-peso payment, and paid another 10 billion pesos in taxes and penalties, he explained.
Mighty had originally offered a 25-billion-peso settlement, Aguirre added.
The company sold off its assets to Japan Tobacco International in order to meet its tax deficiencies, the finance department said earlier.
The Japanese firm, one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies, whose global brands include Winston and Camel, announced on August 22 that it was purchasing Mighty for 46.8 billion pesos.
Asked to comment on the justice department decision, a Japan Tobacco spokesman in Japan said “the tax liability is an issue that should be solved appropriately between Mighty Corp. and the Philippine government.”

Saudi endowment investment funds exceed $133m in net assets 

Updated 18 sec ago

Saudi endowment investment funds exceed $133m in net assets 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s endowment investment funds have experienced significant growth, with the number of licensed funds increasing by 13 in 2023, reaching a total of 24, as reported by the General Authority of Awqaf. 

In a newly released report, the authority revealed that this expansion has pushed the net assets of endowment investment funds in the Kingdom beyond the SR 500 million ($133 million) milestone for the current year. 

This aligns with the government’s strategic objectives to advance the financial sector and streamline the licensing processes for various products.  

Saudi Arabia to grant premium residency for regional HQ executives 

Updated 24 min 4 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to grant premium residency for regional HQ executives 

RIYADH: As part of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts to enhance its business environment, the Ministry of Investment has developed a mechanism to grant premium residency to executives based at regional headquarters. The initiative is being undertaken in collaboration with the country’s Premium Residency Center, according to an official release. 

In its pre-budget statement for 2024, the Ministry of Finance highlighted the collaborative work between the Ministry of Investment and various government entities to remove obstacles for investors.  

This includes cooperation with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing to establish an exception mechanism and permissions for companies looking to set up their headquarters within one of their branches in the Kingdom. 

Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance revealed that the Investment Ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to implement incentives for employees at regional headquarters. 

These incentives include granting visas based on the company’s requirements, enabling spouses under the family residency to work, and extending the age limit for dependents allowed to stay with regional headquarters employees to 25 years. 

Saudi Arabia continues to make strides in improving its business climate, attracting investments and fostering a more accommodating environment for foreign companies.

S&P upgrades Oman’s credit rating to BB+ with stable outlook  

Updated 55 min 36 sec ago

S&P upgrades Oman’s credit rating to BB+ with stable outlook  

RIYADH: In a new development signaling a shift in Oman’s economic landscape, global credit rating agency Standard & Poor has upgraded the nation’s long-term credit rating from “BB” to “BB+.”  

S&P Global's assessment underscores a transformation in Oman’s non-oil sector, promising substantial growth in the years ahead, particularly between 2023 and 2026. This shift is poised to play a pivotal role in enhancing the country’s economic prosperity. 

Additionally, positive signs within the oil sector are expected to further fuel Oman’s economic expansion.  

PIF-owned real estate firm ROSHN launches sales for SEDRA Phase 3  

Updated 01 October 2023

PIF-owned real estate firm ROSHN launches sales for SEDRA Phase 3  

RIYADH: Saudi real estate developer ROSHN has announced expanding its footprint in the Kingdom with the launch of sales for the third phase of its flagship development, SEDRA, located in Riyadh. 

The Public Investment Fund-owned company has introduced 3,438 new residences and a wide range of amenities within this 20 million sq. meter residential project. 

Prospective residents of SEDRA Phase 3 will be able to choose from a wide array of floor plans and facades, the Saudi Press Agency reported. These options encompass single or multi-family configurations, three- and four-bedroom townhouses, duplexes, and spacious four- and five-bedroom villas. 

With the introduction of the project, ROSHN Group is poised to meet the surging demand for modern, sustainable living spaces in the Kingdom. 

David Grover, CEO of ROSHN Group, emphasized the significance of launching the sales of the new offering, underscoring the company’s commitment to enhancing living standards in alignment with Saudi Vision 2030. 

The new development is equipped with advanced insulation, solar-powered water heaters, and energy-efficient air-conditioning systems, all contributing to substantial energy and water conservation. 

Furthermore, the project boasts that 12 percent of its total area is dedicated to open and green spaces, enabling residents to enjoy the natural beauty of the community, including a wadi and acacia forest. 

Located in the northern part of Riyadh, SEDRA offers easy access via Kaden Road, with nearby metro stations F2 and A7, along with key landmarks such as the SAR railway station, Princess Nourah University, Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud University, and King Khalid International Airport. 

The development also provides direct access to ROSHN Front’s shopping, leisure, and business areas, delivering an integrated “live, work, play” lifestyle. 

SEDRA is planned in eight phases, with a scope of adding over 30,000 residential units to Riyadh’s housing stock. Each phase will incorporate elements of nature and local heritage into its design, reflecting a blend of tradition and modernity. 

This development aligns with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to elevate living standards across the Kingdom. 

By 2030, ROSHN’s ambitious plans include the development of over 400,000 homes, along with the establishment of 1,000 kindergartens and schools, and over 700 mosques. 

In a recent move, ROSHN launched MARAFY, a mixed-use development in northern Jeddah, featuring the Kingdom’s first canal project linked to the Red Sea. It encompasses more than 300 sq. km of waterfront promenade, covering a total area exceeding 2 million sq. meters.

Structural reforms in Saudi Arabia’s economy to continue: Finance minister  

Updated 01 October 2023

Structural reforms in Saudi Arabia’s economy to continue: Finance minister  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will continue its fiscal and structural reforms as the Kingdom is steadily embarking on its economic diversification journey in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030, said a top government official.  

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that continuous implementation of the ambitious plan is necessary for the Kingdom to catalyze its economic growth and maintain fiscal sustainability.  

The minister added that the government program will help Saudi Arabia develop promising economic sectors, enhance investment attractions, stimulate industrial growth, raise the percentage of local content and promote non-oil exports, according to the pre-budget statement from the Ministry of Finance.  

“The Kingdom continues to support social protection programs and shows continued progress toward the objectives of the Fiscal Sustainability Program,” said the ministry in the pre-budget statement.  

It added: “These objectives were achieved by directing expansionary spending to accelerate the implementation of major programs, projects and sectoral and regional strategies to contribute toward gross domestic product growth, attract investments, and stimulate the local economy.”  

According to Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia remained financially resilient over the past few years when the world faced economic headwinds for various reasons, including the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions.  

He further pointed out that the Kingdom is well equipped with strong government reserves and sustainable levels of public debt that can accommodate any crises that may occur in the future.  

The minister noted that Saudi Arabia’s agile nature of additional spending will help the Kingdom to have control in the medium term, allowing an extension of implementation periods for projects and strategies.  

Al-Jadaan added that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is crucial as the Kingdom is pursuing its economic transformation program.  

The Public Investment Fund has spearheaded this economic diversification journey by investing in various strategic sectors.  

According to the fund’s annual report, it currently holds assets worth SR2.23 trillion ($595 billion).  

The fund has established 70 companies, 25 of them, including Saudi Coffee Co. and Halal Products Development Co. were founded in 2022.  

PIF’s annual report added that these companies offered 1,81,000 jobs in 2022.