In their last meeting, held in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, the treasury ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states rejected the health ministers’ recommendation to raise customs imposed on tobacco imports to 150 percent.
According to Al-Bayan daily, the treasury ministers said that raising the tobacco import tax would intensify tobacco smuggling operations into the GCC states rather than reduce tobacco consumption. Therefore, the ministers recommended seeking alternative methods to fight smoking and reduce smoking risks.
In Saudi Arabia, the tax was supposed to account for more than eight percent of the country’s non-oil earnings, expected to reach $12 billion in 2000, and accounting for 20 percent of all customs revenues for that period.
Nearly 47 million cigarettes are imported to Saudi Arabia on a daily basis, making it the fourth leading tobacco importer in the world. — (MENA Report)
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