Dubai’s Health Authority has issued the first fines for non-compliance with the Emirate’s health Insurance Law. It has fined 25 health centres, clinics, insurance brokers and insurance companies between 10,000 and 80,000 AED. In addition it has referred six clinics for potential fraudulent activities to the prosecution authorities but has not named them.
This week the spotlight is on tax developments in the GCC and wider Middle East, where Saudi Arabia has confirmed no income tax will be imposed on individuals and corporation tax will not be imposed on institutions this side of 2020. The confirmation follows previous comments in 2016 suggesting there were no plans to introduce income, property or commodities taxes as part of the Saudi Vision 2030. A 50% tax on soft drinks and 100% tax on tobacco and energy drinks will be introduced by June 2017. Elsewhere, an expatriate levy which will have to be paid by sponsors by September 2017 and will have to be paid for each expatriate employee. The fee will rise to 800 Riyals by 2020. It has also been confirmed VAT will stay at 5% until 2020.
Meanwhile in Jordan, Jordanian taxpayers who do not submit their 2016 tax returns by 30 April will be fined it has been announced. The fines will be between 100 and 500 Dinars. A weekly fine of 4,000 Dinars will also be applied. Tax returns can be filed online.
Dubai’s Land Department is working on a new rent law and is awaiting approval from the legislative committee. The law is aimed at reducing landlord-tenant disputes and stabilise rental market volatility. It’s understood it will come into force in June. The Land Department is also looking at introducing Real Estate Investment Trusts regulations (REITs).
Saudi Arabia’s Commercial Transactions Law has been amended. The aim is to tackle the issue of bounced cheques. Article 4(2) of the law has been amended to request the relevant authorities increase the penalties for individuals who commit offences regarding bounced cheques. These include jail sentences and naming and shaming those who issue cheques which then bounce.
Dubai’s Land Department has announced new rent regulations are under consideration. The aim is to reduce landlord-tenant disputes and stabilise the Emirate’s rental market. No further details have been given but the draft is ready and will be sent to the Legislative Council soon. It follows the introduction of new measures to improve market transparency, including mandatory use of a unified rental lease form. Department officials are also working on introducing new rental security deposit and unit handover forms.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in Bahrain, where an Investment Limited Partnership Law passed by Bahrain’s Parliament in August 2016 and published in Bahrain Official Gazette, issue 3273 has now come into force. It marks a first for Bahrain and for the wider Gulf Cooperation Council region as Bahrain Edict No. 18/2016 enables investors to establish limited partnerships ‘on-shore’ as well as ‘off-shore’ in free zones. It also allows new LLPs to be incorporated and existing partnerships to convert to LLPs.
Elsewhere, the Kingdom’s Government is set to issue special ID cards to all investors from other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The aim is to help investors conduct hassle-free transactions at various service departments in the Kingdom. The move follows directives from the country’s Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to provide GCC residents and investors with more facilities.
Kuwait’s Public Authority for Manpower has urged employers holding contracts with Government bodies to check the numbers of national workers registered with their companies. The aim is to ensure their status is compatible with the Decision determining the number of nationals employed at companies which have contracts with Government bodies. The information technology department has finalised the procedures for applying this Decision.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in the UAE, where publicly-listed companies in the country will be urged to boost female representation following an agreement between the country’s Securities and Commodities Authority and the UAE Gender Balance Council. Under the agreement, the two organisations will work harder to narrow the gender gap in listed firms as well. It comes as the UAE is going to launch a comprehensive set of guidelines and actions aimed at helping UAE organisations adopt a gender-sensitive approach at their workplace in September 2017. The guidelines have been developed in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Council will hold various workshops for representatives from federal entities, to introduce the guide and how to implement it.
Elsewhere, private recruitment agencies in the UAE are going to be replaced with Government-backed recruitment centres later this year. It represents an industry overhaul and companies will have to meet strict criteria to work for the Tadbeer network of Labour Ministry-regulated centres. Centre staff will conduct interviews with domestic workers to ensure they understand their contractual rights, get the appropriate training and the right education. They will also resolve disputes and monitor housing and other accommodation for workers. The aim is to provide a contact point for domestic workers to protect low-income labour from exploitation.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts have launched a consultation on adding a new Part 56 to the Court’s Rules to establish a specialist Technology and Construction Division. The consultation ends on 22 April 2017. Feedback should be provided to email@example.com and the full consultation can be found at:
The current Rules can be found at::
Analysis of what the rules could mean can be found at:
The UAE’s Finance Ministry has published a VAT timetable on its website. The timetable details the dates and venues for all workshops and who should attend. The publication comes as the Finance Ministry launches the first phase of its awareness and education workshops to prepare businesses for the new tax system which will be introduced by the end of this year, for excise tax, and early next yearfor VAT. It also follows confirmation from the Ministry for businesses with taxable suppliers over 375,000 AED to register for VAT. However businesses whose revenues fall short of the threshold should keep updated accounting records. These could be used if and when they need to register for VAT purposes. Both taxes are going to be introduced at around the same time and in line with the UAE’s GCC neighbours. The first workshop targeted so-called 'multipliers' or Government entities like chambers of commerce and economic development departments. It was also aimed at consultancies and partners. The workshops will ensure businesses
fully understand the new system and have the knowledge to take the necessary measures to comply with the new tax laws and procedures.