A Unified Environmental Law has been called for following the 21st meeting of the Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs. The relevant Ministers also approved the Committee of Ministers Responsible for the Environment Affairs for 2020 to 2024 strategic plan and the strategy of the Committee of Ministers Responsible for Environment Affairs for 2020 to 2024. The operational committees will start their work to implement the plan. Each committee will set the detailed terms of reference for the committee at its first meeting and submit an annual report to the undersecretaries’ committee. A common framework for the GCC countries under the law will be presented at the next meeting
This week the spotlight is on real estate developments in the GCC, where Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning and Municipality Department has announced a number of facilities including real estate developers will be exempt from fines imposed on delays in registering their real estate transactions for the first time. Developers are now exempt from 10,000 AED fines if they are late in registering their businesses. The exemption is valid for all transactions made on properties but which have not been registered.
Elsewhere, Oman’s Housing Ministry has announced it has set up a centre to help developers clear all project approvals in 27 days. The aim is to boost the sector in the Sultanate and reduce paperwork levels. Previously developers had to approach different Government agencies to get approvals which could take upto two years.
The European Parliament and Council passed a regulation (EU) 2016/679 to refresh the data and privacy protection laws for European Union States. The new regulation is commonly known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and came into effect on 25 May 2018. The GDPR has defined the rights of EU individuals relating to how their data is collected, stored, processed and used by organisations. Any organisation that handles the data of any EU citizen is bound by the provisions of the GDPR. This regulation is applicable globally and fines of up to 4% of worldwide turnover or 20 million euros (whichever is greater) will be levied on businesses breaching them. GCC organisations and businesses need to consider whether they collect, store, process or control any data for EU citizens and revise their own governance and enterprise risk management frameworks to comply with the GDPR provisions.
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The Governors of the GCC monetary agencies and Central Banks have agreed to establish a Gulf disbursements company to facilitate money transactions between them. All members have contributed to the company’s capital and are seeking specialist consultations on the payment system. The company will be headquartered in Riyadh and a secondary office will be based in Abu Dhabi. The aim is to provide a quick and safe environment for financial transactions between them.
This week the spotlight is on VAT developments in the GCC. Whilst Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s VAT regimes have come into force and the first knock-on effects have been felt and additional clarifications and exemptions have been issued in both jurisdictions there have been interesting developments elsewhere in the GCC region.
In Bahrain, the First Deputy Chairman of the Kingdom’s Parliament, Ali Alarady has said VAT will be introduced at 5%. However it will not be introduced before June 2018. The draft VAT law will be considered by Parliament once it is referred by the Finance Ministry to discuss the amount, the way to impose it and exempted services and goods. It comes as the Kingdom has started implementing the selective tax on a number of products including fizzy drinks, energy drinks and tobacco.
Meanwhile in Oman, according to local newspaper reports, the authorities have announced VAT will not be introduced in the Sultanate until 2019. It is understood they want to give businesses in the country more time to prepare. However the authorities added selective tax on some goods will be introduced later in the year. The affected goods are fizzy drinks, cigarettes and energy drinks.
According to senior International Monetary Fund officials, VAT is likely to be introduced at different times across the GCC region. They had intended to introduce VAT simultaneously in January but so far only Saudi Arabia and the UAE look like they will do so. When it is introduced VAT will be introduced at 5%. It will require significant administrative and technical changes including detailed regulations and making sure all affected companies are registered. However all six GCC states remain committed to introducing it.
LexisNexis, the world-leading global provider of legal information, is pleased to host, its first legal events for the legal communities in Oman and in Kuwait.
Thanks to these conferences, we offer you the opportunity to reunite and talk about the latest legal developments in Business Law. Leading experts in Oman and in Kuwait will be giving you all the update you need to have.
So save the date for:
- Muscat, November 23, 2017 – The Oman Business Law Forum
In partnership with the Omani British Lawyers Association, the Omani Lawyers Association, and the Association of Corporate Counsel of Middle East Info & Registration: https://www.lexis.ae/events/oblf-2017/
- Kuwait City, November 27, 2017 – The Kuwait Business Law Forum
In partnership with the Al Yaqout group and the Association of Corporate Counsel of Middle East Info & Registration: https://www.lexis.ae/events/kblf-2017/
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