Oman postpones VAT introduction until 2019

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Oman will delay the introduction of a 5 percent value-added tax until 2019 instead of introducing it next year as originally planned, local media reported late on Monday, a decision that may hurt its effort to strengthen shaky state finances.

All six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council agreed among themselves to impose VAT at the start of 2018. But while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are set to go ahead on Jan. 1, other countries have been slow to make the necessary legislative and administrative preparations.

To boost state revenues, which have been strained by years of low oil prices, Oman will impose a new tax on sugary drinks and tobacco products by mid-2018, the Times of Oman reported, quoting finance ministry sources. Some other GCC members introduced such a tax this year.

The International Monetary Fund has estimated a 5 percent VAT in Oman could raise about 1.7 percent of gross domestic product, or around $1.3 billion, for the government.

Oman’s state budget deficit for the first 10 months of 2017 narrowed to 3.20 billion rials ($8.31 billion) from 4.81 billion rials a year earlier, according to finance ministry data.

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