Dubai businesses more upbeat on improving market conditions
With the Expo 2020 and a big surge in the inflow of tourists expected to revitalise commercial activity, businesses in Dubai are getting more upbeat on improving market conditions and strong prospects for international reach, Dubai Economy said.
The quarterly survey of Dubai Economy showed that the proportion of firms anticipating improvement in business situation in the first quarter of 2020 has increased to 60 per cent, from 58 per cent for the previous quarter, with the Expo 2020 and tourist arrivals expected to energise commercial activity.
In a statement, Dubai Economy said while softer demand, lower margins and less projects have had an impact in the last quarter of 2019 when 19 per cent businesses rated their performance as below par, the first quarter of 2020 is expected to bring in new purchase orders, increased volumes and more jobs.
Ali Ibrahim, deputy director-general of Dubai Economy, said the prevailing sentiment showed businesses in Dubai continue to go past challenges and make the best use of opportunities available to target new customers and markets.
“Initiatives to reinforce Dubai as a gateway and enhance ease of doing business have had a significant impact on overall economic activity in the emirate and particularly on trade and tourism,” he said.
“While the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 has energised the domestic manufacturing sector and diversified exports out of Dubai, local firms see an unprecedented opportunity for international exposure in the Expo 2020,” said Ibrahim.
He said exporters targeting new markets and SMEs enhancing their competitiveness are particularly significant in the context of the external orientation and innovation focus of Dubai’s economy.
Businesses in Dubai also count on the Expo to improve their credibility and relations with international companies, thus opening up opportunities for growth and exports. Exporters are slightly more optimistic than the overall business community with composite Business Confidence Index (BCI) scores of 128.8 points and 125.6 points, respectively.
The survey shows that among 70 per cent of the respondents who stated that they have expectations about Expo 2020, 56 per cent expect rise in commercial activity, 20 per cent expect improvement in business/market conditions, 14 per cent expect increase in visitor activity and seven per cent foresee increase in construction activity.
Economists and analysts argue that a host of proactive initiatives, reforms and incentive projects have been positively impacting the investment climate of Dubai, leading to enhanced consumer confidence in the economy.
Analysts see a rebound business optimism surrounding future output with corporates looking to the upcoming World Expo in 2020. They expect the overall economic momentum to be higher, spurring real GDP growth. The official economic outlook for Dubai foresees 3.2 per cent growth in 2020 and 3 per cent in 2021.
MUFG Bank economists expect Dubai to witness a rebound in economic growth this year due to a confluence of factors including, stronger corporate activity, higher real estate prices and renewed business optimism. S&P Global has predicted that Dubai’s GDP would increase at about 2.5 per cent a year until 2022 and much of the increase could come from economic activity associated with Expo 2020.
According Dubai Economy survey, projection for volumes has displayed a year-on-year (y-o-y) increase, with net balance increasing from 47 per cent for first quarter, 2019 to 53 per cent for first quarter, 2020, as businesses expected improvement in economic & business conditions and seasonal demand. “A stronger forecast for volumes has resulted in a more optimistic outlook for profits, with 62 per cent of firms expecting net profits to increase in first quarter, 2020 as compared to 54 per cent for first quarter, 2019.
Despite competitive pressure, firms are optimistic about the level of selling prices for the upcoming quarter.
Hiring intentions have improved on a quarter-on-quarter basis to meet the expected rise in demand, with net balance increasing from 14 per cent for fourth quarter, 2019 to 16 per cent for first quarter, 2020.
Manufacturing sector is more confident about its business prospects for parameters like wage levels, sales revenue, volumes, profits and hiring as compared to services and trading sectors. Within manufacturing, the metal segment is most optimistic about volumes for Q1, 2020, registering a net balance of 75 per cent, supported by expected improvement in business conditions and demand, ahead of Expo 2020. In the trading sector, food & beverages and textile segments are most optimistic about volumes for the upcoming quarter.
Within services sector, tourism & hospitality (hotels & restaurants, travel and car rentals) and transportation segments are optimistic about volumes and expect better market conditions in the upcoming quarter.
VAT: Mind your boundaries
It is a fundamental principle of value-added tax (VAT) that it can be charged only on goods or services sold within the defined boundaries of a country – which in technical terms is referred to as ‘VAT jurisdiction’ or ‘territorial scope’. If goods or services are sold outside such boundaries, it would not attract VAT.
Every country which has introduced VAT, specifically defines its boundaries, either in the VAT Law or any other ancillary Law. The UAE’s VAT Law does not define ‘the UAE’. However, the Constitution of the UAE provides that the union shall exercise sovereignty over all territory and territorial waters lying within the international boundaries of the member Emirates. Further, it is understood that the sovereignty of the UAE extends beyond its land territory and internal waters, to its territorial sea, the airspace over the territorial sea as well as its bed and subsoil.
Thus, if goods or services are sold outside the defined boundaries of the UAE, be it soil, airspace or sea, it would be treated as outside the scope of UAE VAT and then tax would not apply. In the following cases, the VAT Law provides that the services shall be provided where they are performed or physically carried out.
. Services related to goods, such as the installation of goods supplied by others;
. Restaurant, hotel, and food and drink catering services;
. Any cultural, artistic, sporting, educational or similar services.
Additionally, for the supply of services related to real estate, the supply shall be made where the real estate is located.
Thus, any supply of service which is performed outside the boundaries or territorial limits of UAE or where the real estate is located outside the UAE, such services may be considered as outside the scope of UAE VAT Law and would not attract VAT. The following examples would be relevant.
. Catering services provided on rigs located beyond the territorial sea limits of UAE would not attract VAT since the services are performed outside the boundaries of the UAE.
. Instructor lead trainings provided outside the UAE to employees of a UAE-based company should be outside the scope of UAE VAT Law.
. For goods sold by one person to another in the UAE where the goods never physically come within the boundaries of the UAE; such transactions would not attract VAT.
. Oil exploration services provided beyond the continental shelf or boundaries of the UAE would be outside the scope of the UAE VAT Law since they are performed outside the boundaries of the UAE. This would be irrespective of where the supplier and customer are located.
. Repairs and maintenance services provided for ships or oil rigs located outside boundaries of the UAE may not attract VAT.
. Insurance of a property located outside the UAE, which is owned by a UAE resident may be outside the scope of UAE VAT Law. Again, this is irrespective of whether the insurance company or property owner are in the UAE.
Under the UAE VAT Law, a person who supplies goods or services which attract five per cent VAT, is eligible to claim back the VAT paid on goods and services purchased by such person. Further, the law provides that a person who supplies goods or services which are exempted from VAT is not allowed to claim back the VAT incurred on his expenses.
The law also provides that a person can claim back VAT paid on goods and services used for making supplies made outside the boundaries of the UAE which otherwise would have attracted five per cent VAT had they been made within the defined boundaries of the UAE.
In all the above cases, the supplier of the service would be eligible to claim back VAT paid on expenses incurred for rendering the out of scope supplies. This is in light of the fact that such services would have been taxable had they been performed within the boundaries of the UAE.
It may be noted that the above are few illustrations and there could be other supplies made outside the boundaries of UAE VAT Law. It is observed that some taxpayers have not considered the territorial scope of the UAE and have incorrectly charged five per cent VAT even though the supply is outside the scope of UAE VAT Law. Thus, the territorial scope and the place of supply needs to be carefully determined, i.e. whether the supplies are made within the boundaries of the UAE and hence would attract VAT. In the event of ambiguity, it would be ideal to approach the Federal Tax Authority to seek clarity on the territorial scope of UAE VAT Law.
Practice diligence while shopping online
During this time of year, cybercriminals and scammers like to get into the celebration spirit by increasing the quantity and sophistication of their scams to exploit victims for their own financial gains.
Cybercriminals and scammers often take advantage of the giving nature of people, especially during holidays and festivals. They leverage social engineering and other techniques to prey on their victim’s emotions and feelings of goodwill during the season to attempt to steal money and personal information. They also attempt to hide their attacks in the flurry of shopping and other activities hoping that their actions will go unnoticed.
Here are a few of the common scams to be on the lookout for.
Look-alike websites: As you do your online shopping, be sure the sites that you visit are legitimate. Watch out for URLs that use names of well-known brands along with extra words and characters. Look for “https” and a lock symbol in the web address to indicate that a site is using security. Look for misspelled words, requests for your personal information, and prices that seem especially low – especially for popular yet hard to find items. Chances are, those deals probably are too good to be true.
Fake shipping notifications: If you receive an e-mail notification that “your package has shipped,” and you suspect that the notification is fake (i.e. you aren’t expecting a package), exercise extra caution. Be suspicious of invoices for things you didn’t order, especially if the price seems especially high. Certainly don’t click on the e-mail on any attachments or embedded links because they could download malware onto your computer in an attempt to steal your personal information.
E-cards: We all enjoy greeting cards, even e-cards. But if you do receive one, beware of two red flags – the sender’s name is not clearly visible, or you are required to share personal information to get the card. Chances are, it’s a scam.
Emergency scams: If you get a call or e-mail claiming a family member or friend has been arrested, has been in an accident, or was hospitalized while traveling, never send money unless you can confirm the incident. Contact them or others that know them directly, and use traditional methods for sharing funds directly with the individual.
Phony charities: People are usually in the giving spirit during the festivals, and scammers take advantage of that with fake charity e-mails, social media pages, and even text messages. Make sure to verify that the charity is legitimate before contributing to it, and that any links provided are legitimate. Often, the best option is to go directly to the charity’s website to make a donation rather than using any links embedded in an e-mail or website.
Unusual forms of payment: Be wary of anyone asking you to pay for purchases using prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments often cannot be traced or undone if they are fraudulent transactions. Instead, shop with legitimate retailers that take traditional forms of payment and that provide things like receipts and a reasonable return policy.
Free gift cards: Pop-up ads or e-mails offering free gift cards may be legit – or, more likely, they are a phishing attempt to get your personal information it can later be sold on the dark web or used for identity theft. Again, if an opportunity sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Do your due diligence by contacting the organizations or merchants supposedly offering them.
Swiping Safely: Since most credit card companies offer fraud protection on fraudulent transactions, and financial protection if your card is lost, stolen, or misused, consider using your credit card instead of your debit card when making purchases – or even when making any larger purchase. When you need to get cash, it is best to find a bank and use the ATM located inside the building. If that is not an option, carefully inspect the ATM for card skimming devices or anything that looks out of the ordinary before inserting your card into the slot. ATMs are designed for thousands of transactions, so anything that can be wiggled, is the wrong size or color, or otherwise doesn’t seem to fit should be a warning sign.
Finally, if you see something, say something. Report suspicious activities to the merchants, banks, charities, and other organizations being misrepresented, as well as to the cybercrime division of your local law enforcement center.
Nothing can spoil the joy of shopping online more than being a victim of a cyber scam or other malicious activities. If you take the time to follow the guidelines posted above, you are likely to have a good online shopping experience you have been anticipating.
Simplification of tax system will help India economy on long-term basis: Analysts
Dubai – India’s 2020-21 budget was quite balanced and simplification of tax regime announced in the latest budget will help the economy on a long-term basis, say analysts.
While addressing the Indian Union Budget 2020 conference held in Dubai on Monday, they said markets and investors should look at the Indian economy over the long-term basis – five to 10 years or beyond.
Tushar Pradhan, chief investment officer at HSBC Global Asset Management in India, said the budget set direction towards simplified tax regime which is in line with the country’s bid to be a $5 trillion economy.
“Every individual or corporate should be part of the tax net and that is going to propel economy. Simplification is a big step. Some have argued that alternative tax regime is more confusing then before but we have to take it with a pinch of salt,” he said while addressing the forum, which was organized by The Indian Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI) – Dubai chapter.
He noted that divestment target of Rs2,100 billion is too ambitious and the next year will be really tough one to meet fiscal deficit to match.
Paras Shahdadpuri, chairman of Nikai Group, said the market was expecting some sops for the industries but it was missing in the budget.
“There was a lot of expectations built around the budget, expecting some big bang and fireworks. But it didn’t happen. Therefore, industry was disappointed. But, overall, budget is good as it did provide some stimulus,” he added.
Anish Mehta, chairman of ICAI’s Dubai chapter, said the government aimed to give more disposable income in the hands of individuals by introducing new tax slab under simplified regime in the budget.
“People, now, can choose between old and new tax slab depending on their savings appetite or not claiming various exemptions. However, this will discourage forced savings by individuals which is essential for sound financial position in times of crisis. Another measure which will impact the tax is taxing dividend distribution in the hands of the recipient rather than corporate. This may be beneficial to some but disadvantageous to tax payers who are in higher income group,” he added.
He said people were expecting some relaxation on exemption of tax on long-term capital gains which could not find place in the budget 2020. “This could have boosted investments in capital market.”
Anurag Chaturvedi, secretary of ICAI’s Dubai chapter, sees it as a balanced budget with respect to an individual increased slab-based rates and options to opt new scheme of tax.
“Abolition of dividend distribution tax is bigger reform by the government. However, capitalists will have to bear burden of increased tax slab rates, additionally bringing stateless persons in to tax net and introduction of deemed residency provisions will impact NRI in general. It will force them to choose a tax domicile (Tax Resident of any country) outside India to avoid taxing global income in India,” Chaturvedi said.