Saudi Arabia’s Health Insurance Council has confirmed it is scrapping the individual health insurance system for private sector employees. The Council added employers should provide insurance to employees and their families. This includes spouses, male children under 25 and unmarried daughters. The aim is to transfer responsibility for health insurance from employees to employers, regulate the health insurance market more effectively and eliminate fake insurance.
KSA: Agencies working to tackle the increasing numbers of cases involving government purchase irregularities
Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council has asked the Kingdom’s National Anti-Corruption Commission to work with other agencies to tackle the increasing numbers of cases involving government purchase irregularities. It comes as the country has recorded the highest ever number of bribery cases. The call came during the Council’s latest meeting.
This week the spotlight is on employment law developments in Saudi Arabia, where the Kingdom’s Labour and Social Development Minister, Ali Al-Ghafees has announced the Ministry has amended the penalties related to the Labour Law regulations.
Employers will be fined 10,000 Riyals if they violate the holiday entitlement of employees. They will also be fined 10,000 Riyals if they allow a non-Saudi employee to work in a profession other than the one specified in their work permit which is a breach of Article 38 of the Labour Law. In addition, if employers don’t open a file for the firm with the Labour Office or update the firm’s data they will be fined 10,000 Riyals which is a breach of Article 15 of the Labour Law. An employer who fails to submit the Wage Protection file to the Labour Office monthly will be fined 10,000 Riyals. If a firm fails to meet health and occupational safety requirements for its staff, they will be fined 15,000 Riyals. The fine will be doubled for repeat offences. Employers will be fined 2,000 Riyals if they keep an employee’s passport, residency permit or medical insurance card without their consent and 10,000 Riyals for failing to have organisational regulations in place or complying with them. The fine will have to be settled within a month of being issued and if it is not it will be doubled.
Elsewhere the country’s Shoura Council has approved a recommendation for a 40-hour work week. The Council also approved an additional paid day for employees working in activities earmarked for Saudisation. The Council made the decisions last week.
The official spokesperson for Saudi Arabia’s Cooperative Health Insurance Council, Yaser Almuarik has announced health insurance policies sold by health insurance companies under the C name are for marketing purposes only and are not recognised by the insurance system. He added the system does not permit insurance companies to issue policies with benefits which are less than those in the unified policy recognised by the Council. Companies should issue policies which offer the same services offered by the unified policy and if the service is not available in a certain hospital the patient should be referred to another hospital.
This week the spotlight is on banking and finance and employment developments in Saudi Arabia, where Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars member, Abdullah Almutleg, has warned against trading in Bitcoin. He added it is very risky and risky investments are forbidden under Sharia Law. Saudi Arabia is the third Arab country to warn against the use of bitcoins after Palestine and Egypt.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s Human Resources Development Fund, Hadaf has announced it has decided to cover up to 80% of the travel cost of female nationals working in the private sector. The move is part of the Female Workers Transport Support which aims to find solutions for transport challenges faced by female workers when travelling to and from work. Female workers wishing to benefit from this scheme should register on the General Organisation for Social Insurance’s website.
Weekly Spotlight: Saudi Arabia to address loopholes to ensure employees are not dismissed unfairly because of Article 77
This week the spotlight is on employment and banking and finance developments in Saudi Arabia, where Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council has asked the Labour and Social Development Ministry to review Article 77 of the Implementing Regulations to the Labour Law. The aim is to address loopholes to ensure employees are not dismissed unfairly because of Article 77 of the law. The Council also asked the Ministry to review the Saudi Employment Strategy to increase the number of jobs allocated to women and increase their employment chances.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, Tadawul has announced further reforms designed to increase its appeal to investors. The aim is aid the Kingdom’s modernisation, improve market efficiency, boost investor security and access, and market liquidity in the Kingdom. Amongst other changes, the Independent Custody Model is updated to help ease Qualified Foreign Investor market access by providing increased trading limit flexibility for these clients. New procedures will also be introduced to mitigate credit risk associated with the settlement process for all participants. These changes come into force on 21 January 2018. There are also proposed changes to the methods for determining opening and closing prices.
Saudi Arabia’s King has issued a Royal Order to establish a Supreme Anti-corruption committee. It will be chaired by the Crown Prince and the Chairman of the Monitoring and Investigation Commission, the Chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Authority, the Chief of the General Audit Bureau, the Attorney General and the Head of State Security will be members. The Committee will be responsible for identifying offences and people and entities involved in public corruption cases. It will also have investigatory powers and issue arrest warrants as well as travel bans, disclosures and freezing of accounts and portfolios, track funds, assets and prevent their remittance or transfer by relevant persons and entities. The committee will have the right to take any precautionary measures until cases are referred to the investigating authorities or judicial bodies. It may take whatever measures it considers necessary to deal with those involved in public corruption cases. It may seek the assistance of those it considers necessary and may set up teams for investigations or prosecutions and may delegate some or all of its powers to these teams. The committee will submit detailed reports on its findings and what action it has taken. The competent authorities will be informed of this Royal Order and all relevant parties will cooperate fully to enforce it.
Saudi Arabia Prince Sultan Bin Salman, Head of the Commission for Tourism and National Heritage has announced the first Saudi tourist visas will be issued in the first quarter of 2018. It is understood all necessary government approvals are in place for the launch of electronic visas next year to all nationals whose countries allow their citizens to visit Saudi Arabia. The authorities are currently preparing regulations on who is eligible for the visas and how they will obtain them. Saudi Arabia currently grants tourist visas to those from a limited number of countries, but even those applications have restrictions, including requirements to travel through accredited companies and stay at designated hotels. The cost of the new tourist visa has not yet been settled, but is expected to be as low as possible to help encourage tourism.
Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council has approved the draft bankruptcy law. If approved, it will regulate bankruptcy procedures in the Kingdom. The draft law covers bankruptcy procedures in terms of preventive settlement and financial restructuring, especially of minor debtors and administrative settlement. It will apply to anyone involved in business or commercial activities in the Kingdom, including non-Saudi commercial and vocational companies and investors.
Weekly Spotlight: KSA long-term supply contracts which meet certain conditions will be treated as zero-rated for VAT
This week the spotlight is on VAT developments in Saudi Arabia, where the Kingdom’s General Authority of Zakat and Tax has announced long-term supply contracts which meet certain conditions will be treated as zero-rated for VAT purposes. The aim is to provide companies with a grace period to renegotiate contracts which did not anticipate the introduction of VAT in the Kingdom on 1 January 2018. The grace period applies only to contracts which did not anticipate VAT in advance and not to contracts which include a term on VAT or a mechanism to amend prices to account for the tax. To benefit from the grace period, a contract needs to have been signed before 30 May 2017 and a customer has to be fully entitled to deduct input tax in respect of the supply of goods or services. A customer should also provide a written certification to the supplier that input tax will be deducted or refunded in full. The Authority added the first year of VAT implementation will be considered to be a transitional phase which is why it has announced this grace period. All supply contracts continuing after 31 December 2018 will be subject to VAT at the rate set by the Implementing Regulations.
The Authority has also issued more VAT guidance ahead of its introduction in the Kingdom on 1 January 2018. The Authority has clarified the invoicing obligations in this latest guidance. The Authority confirmed two types of invoices are outlined in the Implementing Regulations to the VAT Law. The first is a simplified tax invoice for the supply of goods or services which total less than 1,000 Riyals. In these types of transactions the invoice must include the issue date, the name and address and VAT identification number of the supplier. It must also contain details of the goods or services supplied, the consideration to be received for the goods or services and a clear statement of the tax payable or indication of the total payment (consideration) includes the tax in respect of the supply of goods or services. A simplified tax invoice may not be issued for an internal supply or exports. The second is for transactions exceeding 1,000 Riyals, which require a more detailed invoice under Article 53 of the Implementing Regulations. This invoice, which must be in Arabic as well as any other language, must include the date of issue of the invoice, the serial number identifying and distinguishing the tax invoice, the supplier’s VAT identification number and the customer’s VAT identification number (if the customer is responsible for the calculation of the import tax and a statement thereof). It must also include the date the supply was signed, the name and address of the supplier and the customer, the amount and nature of the goods supplied and the scope and nature of the services provided. Finally it must contain the amounts subject to tax or specifically exempt, the unit price excluding tax and any discounts or rebates if not included in the unit price, as well as the applicable VAT rate and amount due in Saudi Riyals.