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Saudi Arabia will triple the rate of value added tax (VAT) imposed on goods and services. VAT will go up from five to 15 per cent in July. The government said this drastic measure is necessary to curb the effects of coronavirus on the economy. The cut is also part of wider austerity measures. The oil-rich nation's finances have been badly hit by the pandemic. Oil prices and demand for oil have plummeted. Saudi Arabia introduced VAT for the first time in 2018. Analysts report that oil revenues this year have fallen by almost a quarter when compared to the same period last year.
Saudi's Finance Ministry has also suspended the cost of living allowance in a bid support the economy. This is paid to state employees to help with rising prices and more expensive petrol. The Finance Minister said: "These measures are painful but necessary to maintain financial and economic stability over the medium to long term...and to overcome the unprecedented coronavirus crisis with the least damage possible." A Gulf expert said the measures would impact consumption and could lower revenues. He said Saudi needs pro-growth measures, not pro-austerity ones.
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