Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Zakat and Tax prohibits sale of cigarettes without tax stamps

GAZT stated that the application of the tax stamps system will strengthen the imposition of controls on the tax collection on selected products that are imported to Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 November 2019

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Zakat and Tax prohibits sale of cigarettes without tax stamps

  • The authority called on all consumers to report illegal products through its official website

RIYADH: The General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT) announced that it will ban the sale and circulation of cigarette packs without tax stamps, starting today.

GAZT explained that this decision is based on the provisions of the executive regulation of the selective tax system related to tax stamps, within the framework of the unified agreement for selective tax for Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

The tax stamp is defined as a “distinctive sign,” in the form of a sticker or a symbol containing encrypted digital data, placed on selected products and activated electronically. The sticker is ordered, printed and followed through a tracking program. Producers and importers of the selected products are required to comply with specific product standards.

GAZT stated that the application of the tax stamps system will strengthen the imposition of controls on the tax collection on selected products that are imported to Saudi Arabia. It will also strengthen the ability to verify the safe entry of selected products into the Kingdom, in a lawful and legitimate manner, to ensure the collection of all due taxes on this type of goods. The application of tax stamps also ensures that the compliance standards set out in the World Health Organization Convention on Tobacco Control are met.

GAZT confirmed that the consumer can verify the legitimacy and integrity of tax seals through the verification application available on smart phones, launched by GAZT in conjunction with the application of the tax stamping system, so that the user can scan the bar code on cigarette packs through the application.

The authority called on all consumers to report illegal products through its official website (GAZT.GOV.SA), or through the unified call center (19993), or the verification application.
 


Saudi employers given green light to cut wages, hours

Updated 07 April 2020

Saudi employers given green light to cut wages, hours

  • But businesses hit by coronavirus can change contracts only with employees’ consent, ministry says

JEDDAH: Saudi private-sector employers whose businesses have been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic have been told they can cut their employees’ wages and working hours.

But they may do so only with the employees’ consent, and the reduced wages must accurately reflect the number of hours worked, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development said.

The ministry also moved to allay fears among some private sector staff, both Saudi and expatriate, that unscrupulous employers could use the coronavirus crisis to exploit their workers.

“Workers can report any violation through the ministry’s website, channels and social media platforms,” Saad Al-Hammad, director of Human Resources Affairs at the ministry, told Arab News.

In addition, employers who have benefited from state subsidies, such as the SR9 billion ($2.4 billion) fund created last week to compensate Saudi workers for the effects of the pandemic, may not terminate employment contracts. Employees, however, retain the right to do so.

The ministry said its aim was to protect employees from dismissal or loss of contractual benefits during the pandemic. It would continue to regulate the labor market, mitigate the economic effects of the virus outbreak on the private sector and protect the interests of both parties in the labor relationship, it said.

Saudi legal counsel Dimah Talal Al-Sharif said amending the contractual relationship between employer and employee in this way was permissible under the legal concept known as “force majeure,” which applied to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The ministerial decision aims to limit any attempt to tamper with people’s rights as employees, and to define the limits that both parties must agree on first, while also reflecting the reality,” Al-Sharif told Arab News.

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