Nod needed for VAT

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Kuwait Finance Minister Dr Nayef Al-Hajraf

RIYADH, Oct 31, (KUNA): Kuwaiti Minister of Finance Dr Nayef Al-Hajraf said on Thursday that the value-added tax (VAT) could not be imposed without approval of the National Assembly (Parliament).

Kuwait is a State of institutions and has a Constitution, thus the VAT could not be enforced without consent of the National Assembly, Minister Al-Hajraf stated. He was reacting to a question in this respect during a seminar, titled, “The Middle East Welcomes Businesses: How the region has turned into an axis for international investments,” as part of the Third Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, hosted by the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Legislations and regulations are necessary to impose any tax, he said, also noting that other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, had already endorsed and implemented the GCC VAT Treaty.

Al-Hajraf said that GCC economic integration should not be affected by any differences, opinions or political views among some Member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Al-Hajraf made his remarks at “The Middle East welcomes business” session on Thursday, held as part of the “Future Investment Initiative” forum in Riyadh, with the participation of Saudi Finance Minister Mohammad Al-Jadaan and Bahraini Minister of Finance and National Economy Sheikh Salman Al-Khalifa. Al-Hajraf explained that the economy affects every citizen in all Gulf countries, “which is what we focus on in the Gulf Economic Committee”, he added.

He stressed that what has been achieved during the past 30 years under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council is very good, pointing out that the differences between the GCC countries happens in all countries of the world, “and we must work to resolve it”, he said.

Al-Hajraf pointed out that the visions and plans of the GCC countries are working in an integrated manner, and support each other to achieve the best way to give the private sector the ability to play its role, stressing that the GCC states will work in the economic aspect in an integrated manner. For his part, Saudi Minister Al-Jadaan said, “we are introducing Gulf resolutions every year in order to improve economic unification, such as allowing GCC citizens to do their business in any Gulf country as it citizens, which applies to most professions”.

“We, as ministers, meet at least twice a year and every time we work on new laws,” he said. The Initiative, which launched on Tuesday and will run until Thursday, is organized by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and in the presence of a number of head of states and decision makers. Al-Hajraf discussed with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday many common topics, including the launch of the Kuwaiti- American Business Council. Dr Al-Hajraf told KUNA after the meeting, on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, that the Kuwaiti-American Business Council was announced last week in Washington. The business council would be a platform for Kuwaiti businessmen to meet with their American counterparts to accomplish common interests, he added. Kuwait and the US have extremely strong ties, Al-Hajraf stressed.

Such opportunities are taken to emphasize Kuwait’s strategic interests and to communicate with countries that have strategic ties with Kuwait, and certainly America is an excellent ally, as they are keen to take such opportunities to emphasize vital ties, he said.

He underlined Kuwait’s efforts to support the international community’s efforts in combatting financing terrorism, stressing that Kuwait is committed to the international community in combating it, which is unrelated to religion, homeland nor history, but a scourge facing humanity. Kuwait has been supporting international efforts in the fight against terrorism, emphasizing their discussions with the US side, especially since there is a conference that will be held in Melbourne with the Australian Minister of Finance next week to complement the Paris Conference held last year, he underscored.

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