DMCC plans to launch cacao centre in Dubai
The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre will transform Dubai into an international cacao trade hub
The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) on Sunday announced plans to launch a cacao centre that aims to make Dubai a global hub for trade in the bean, the Dubai government’s media office said on Sunday.
The world’s flagship Free Zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise said it would initially incubate a select range of cacao services starting in mid-2021 within its Coffee Centre in Jebel Ali free zone. The new initiative will transform the emirate into an international trade hub for the in-demand superfood as part of its mid to long-term development strategy, it said.
“The DMCC Cacao Centre represents the next phase of our growth strategy and will see us transform Dubai into a global hub for the cacao trade,” said Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive chairman and chief executive officer of DMCC.
In contact with industry players
DMCC is in contact with a range of cacao industry players, including Blue Stripes Urban Cacao and stakeholders across West Africa and South America, in order to better understand the needs of the market and how Dubai can play a central role in supporting its sustainable growth, according to the media office.
Last July, DMCC said it plans to expand its Coffee Centre, which opened in 2019, as well as its Tea Centre, which launched in 2005. The coffee centre offers infrastructure and services for green bean storage, processing, roasting, packing and delivery.
“Few thought the DMCC Tea Centre and DMCC Coffee Centre would reach the levels of trade we see today, so by utilising our expertise and experience gained from developing these commodities, we see cacao and its high-growth potential as a logical next step. Whilst connecting producers with consumers will be an important part of our model, we will ensure DMCC Cacao Centre follows our high-level approach toward sustainability, which prioritises driving value across the entire supply chain,” Bin Sulayem.
Global demand for the superfood cacao — shell, fruit and beans — is rising and considered one of nature’s highest sources of magnesium and iron, as well as antioxidants and natural cacao butter. Cacao is also linked to holistic wellness and is used for physical, mental and emotional balance.
Oman joins Gulf neighbours as it implements 5% VAT
Sultanate follows Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain as it looks to boost government revenues after taking big pandemic hit
Oman on Friday implemented a 5 percent value added tax (VAT) which is expected to boost government revenues by up to OR400 million ($1 billion).
The move comes after a six-month transitional period for the application of the tax on most goods and services in addition to goods imported into the sultanate, according to Oman News Agency.
It reported that the Oman government has expanded the list of goods subject to zero-rate VAT from 93 basic food commodities to 488 as part of a package of social protection initiatives approved by Sultan Haitham.
Food commodities subject to zero-rate VAT include vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, dates, spices, oils, fish, red meat and poultry while services such as education, healthcare and financial services will be exempt from VAT.
All six Gulf countries agreed to introduce a 5 percent VAT in 2018 after a slump in oil prices hit their revenues. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have already introduced the tax.
In November, it was reported that cash-strapped Oman plans to take a step unheard of in the Gulf region – it’s going to start taxing the income of wealthy individuals beginning in 2022.
The move is part of a broader program to tackle a budget deficit that’s ballooned due to low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.
The sultanate’s finances were in trouble even before the breakout of the pandemic and a crash in oil prices. It is now on course to rack up the steepest budget deficit since 2016 at nearly 19 percent of gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund.
S&P estimates Oman’s gross government debt will rise to about 84 percent of GDP by end-2020 from 60 percent in 2019, while government-related enterprises debt will reach 43 percent of GDP from 30 percent during the same period.
UAE anti-money laundering: Registration for non-financial entities, individuals extended until April 30
Decision due to the large numbers of companies in the sector seeking to register in the last days of the previous deadline
The UAE Ministry of Economy announced the extension of the deadline granted to companies in the “specific non-financial business and professions” sector to register in government regulations approved for countering money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism until the end of April.
The decision is due to the large numbers of companies in the sector seeking to register in the last days of the previous deadline, which expired on March 31, taking into account the conditions of companies and the business sector in general during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ministry explained that the targeted companies, which include brokers and real estate agents, auditors, dealers of precious metals and gemstones, and corporate service providers, are required to undergo registration, which is mandatory and for free, before the end of the new deadline, in the goAML system and the automatic reporting system for sanctions lists and take the necessary measures to achieve complinace with the requirements of Federal Law No.20 of 2018.
It called on the concerned companies to take advantage of the new period for registration to avoid the penalties and fines stipulated in the law, which will be applied from May 1. Fines start from Dh50,000 to reach Dh5 million, while the penalties for companies that fail to register include the suspension of their licences or their closure.
Abdullah Sultan Al Fan Al Shamsi, Assistant Under-secretary for the supervision and follow-up sector at the Ministry of Economy, said: “Due to the increased level of response in the business sector and non-financial professions identified for mandatory registration, the Ministry of Economy decided, in coordination with its partners from the relevant government agencies, to extend the grace period granted to the target companies and give them more time until the end of the current month to complete the registration process and begin taking the necessary legal measures to comply with the requirements of the law and its implementing regulations.”
“The goal is not to impose violations, but to ensure compliance, and the decision comes with the aim of taking into account the conditions that various companies and business sectors are going through as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its repercussions on a global scale, stressing that the Ministry of Economy is keen to build a solid and positive relationship with the private sector based on the principle of partnership.”
Al Shamsi emphasised that the designated non-financial business and professions sector is a major partner in the UAE’s efforts to combat money laundering and has a pivotal role in supporting government efforts to build a safe and stable economic environment away from money laundering and terrorist financing crimes.
He pointed out that many of the companies concerned in the sector in its four categories showed a high level of awareness and commitment and registered, but there is still a percentage of companies that have not registered in the two systems. Extending the grace period to gives an additional opportunity to these companies to rush to register, avoid violations and protect their business and investments from money laundering risks by complying with government control requirements.
Safia Al Safi, director of the Anti-Money Laundering Department at the Ministry of Economy, said that extending the grace period without applying any violations before April 30 allows companies fulfill their obligations and initiate registration. The Ministry of Economy received more than 6,000 calls and enquiries during March.
Failure to comply with tax audit to result in hefty fines, tax experts warn
Organisations across the UAE which fail to comply with the rules in place regarding the tax audits conducted by the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) will be liable to pay hefty fines, experts warned at a webinar on Wednesday.
Presented by Khaleej Times & MBG Corporate Services, the event sought to bring clarity to some of the key issues regarding tax audits, and brought together key experts in the field to share their insights.
Vipin Ahuja, director – Tax, MBG Corporate Services, started the event with a presentation on why the Federal Tax Authority is conducting tax audits. He explained that the provisions of the federal law on taxation have mandated the FTA with the legal right to perform a tax audit on any person to determine their compliance with the provisions of the relevant laws. FTA authorities will check the returns and other documents like sales invoices, purchase invoices, Customs & VAT documents related to the import and export of goods and services. The FTA can conduct these for any reason, or whenever they want, as per a set of criteria. It is advisable for all business entities in the UAE to prepare themselves for these tax audits in a timely manner as the FTA allows only five days for responding to their queries.
Under the Self-Assessment System of VAT returns filing, the onus is clearly placed on taxpayers and businesses have to interpret and apply the tax legislation correctly to comply with their respective tax obligations, he explained.
Ahuja also shared probable factors for tax audit selection. “The first has to do with if your company is in a VAT refundable position. Ever audit starts with your risk profile and how your company holds up against the FTA risk profile parameters. If you are in this position, then you will definitely be on the FTA’s radar. Another factor is if you are a large-scale business with high volumes.”
Other reasons include a history of late Return submissions, the occurrence of incorrect filings, a non-reconciliation with Customs Records, delay of payment of Taxes/Penalities, and negative adjustments to imports
Laila Aziki, tax agent, MBG Corporate Services, then revealed that there are several penalties for non-compliance with tax audits. One of the heftiest is a Dh20,000 fine that will be charged for failure to facilitate the work of the tax auditor.
“The submission of an incorrect tax return will result in a penalty of Dh3,000 for the first time, and Dh5,000 for repetition and five per cent, 30 per cent, and 50 per cent based on the time of correction,” she said. “Non-maintenance of any financial records will result in a Dh10,000 penalty; and failure to settle the amount payable as sated in the return will result in a one per cent daily penalty up to 300 per cent when unpaid for one calendar month. This is increased to four per cent due on the seventh day and two per cent due tax immediately.”
Ahuja noted that companies can start their journey towards VAT compliance by ensuring accurate and complete data capture into the system; reconciliation of VAT Returns with Books of Accounts & Custom Records; and the maintenance of all the relevant supporting documents.