Grumbling Germans want refund over new compulsory receipt law

Many receipts are printed on paper that cannot be recycled. (AFP)
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Updated 19 January 2020

Grumbling Germans want refund over new compulsory receipt law

  • German authorities hope to tighten their grip on money flows through businesses where a large proportion of payments happen in cash

FRANKFURT: In January, it became law in Germany that retailers must print a receipt for every last transaction in a bid to fight tax evasion, but shopkeepers, customers and industry groups are already bucking against the scheme.

“Small shops’ cash registers already have electronic chips that tax officials can read any time. Why should we go back to the old system?” asked Christian Koch, owner of Hammett, a specialist crime novel shop in Berlin.

“It’s a pain, of the 50 tickets I print each day I’ll throw 49 straight in the bin,” he added.

Even bakers selling rolls for a few dozen euro cents each must now print a receipt for every transaction — even when their customer doesn’t want one.

With their high numbers of small sales each day now generating reams of unwanted documentation, bakeries and snack stands are especially outraged by the change in the law.

“I’ve already emptied this once,” said a worker at Frankfurt sausage stand “Best Worscht in Town,” pointing to a bin overflowing with discarded slips of paper during the busy lunch hour trade.

“It’s a really stupid idea for the environment.”

Obligatory receipts were voted through in 2016, but the law slipped under the public radar until shortly before it came into effect on Jan. 1.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier asked Finance Minister Olaf Scholz to give up on the plans, especially because receipts printed on thermal paper cannot be recycled.

Since then, retailers’ federation HDE has also written to Scholz, asking him to exempt businesses that issue more than 500 receipts per day on average.

“That’s one receipt per minute for a shop open nine hours a day,” the group said in the document, seen by AFP.

Until now Scholz has resisted all such calls, saying the fight against tax evasion — estimated at around €10 billion by tax officials — must include preventing shops and restaurants from failing to record transactions properly.

“I don’t think small shops are really trying to get out of paying their taxes,” said Sarah, a shopper at Hammett.

“They should worry more about people like Amazon, make them pay their taxes in Germany,” she added.

German authorities hope to tighten their grip on money flows through businesses where a large proportion of payments happen in cash, making them more open to tax fraud.

In Berlin, retailers are legally required to install tamper-proof cash registers by October, and many have yet to make the switch.

“It costs close to €1,000 ($1,110) per device, and a lot more if you have to buy a new one,” trades association ZDH told AFP.

That represents a “prohibitive” cost for retailers, especially those like a chain of bakeries with 30 or 40 branches, for example, it added.

The finance ministry retorts that Austria, Italy, Portugal and other European countries get along just fine with obligatory receipts.

But the HDE notes that France plans to gradually phase out the requirement — except in cases where customers explicitly request a paper record.

NMC Health removes CEO amid investigation of UAE firm’s finances

Updated 27 February 2020

NMC Health removes CEO amid investigation of UAE firm’s finances

  • Chief Executive Prasanth Manghat was dismissed with immediate effect
  • Chief Operating Officer Michael Davis was appointed as interim CEO

NMC Health has removed Chief Executive Prasanth Manghat with immediate effect and granted its finance chief extended sick leave, as more details emerge from an investigation into the UAE health care firm’s finances.
Abu-Dhabi based NMC said after Wednesday’s market close that it had appointed Chief Operating Officer Michael Davis as interim CEO to succeed Manghat and said Chief Financial Officer Prashanth Shenoy had been placed on longer leave.
Manghat had been with NMC for about 10 years in various roles, including deputy CEO and CFO, and had seen the company through its 2012 listing on the London Stock Exchange.
The moves are the latest blow for the firm whose shares have lost about two thirds of their value since US-based short-seller Muddy Waters late last year questioned its financial statements.
NMC had said at the time that the report was “false and misleading,” but had opened its own investigation into company finances. The review is being led by Louis Freeh, who was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States from 1993 to mid-2001.
NMC on Wednesday said the investigation committee had identified supply chain financing arrangements that were entered into by the company and “which are understood to have been used” by entities controlled by founder BR Shetty and former vice-chair Khaleefa Butti Omair Yousif Ahmed Al Muhairi.
Reuters was unable to reach Manghat, Shetty and Muhairi for comment outside business hours on NMC’s latest statement.
The company, which operates clinics and hospitals, specialized maternity and fertility clinics, and long-term care homes in 19 countries, said the committee was reviewing a drawdown of its facilities that had not been disclosed or approved by the board.
Its shares closed 6.6% higher before Wednesday’s statement.
NMC also said it had suspended a member of its treasury team over possible discrepancies in its bank statements and ledger entries, and said it would be unable to publish its annual results till at least the end of April.
Indian billionaire Shetty resigned as NMC’s co-chairman this month, after British regulators said they were looking into NMC following a disclosure that he had misstated the size of his stake.
Shetty had said this month that his NMC shareholdings were under a legal review looking into a large portion of his shares signed to two of NMC’s top investors in 2017, while some of his other stock had been pledged as security against loans.